Course Syllabus

ECE 1250 – Introduction to Electrical & Computer Engineering

Course Taught:  MWF 9:40-10:30 WEB 1250

Professor: Dr. Cynthia Furse  (801) 581 7236  Offices: MEB2280 and Park210

Teaching Assistants: Labs: Ta's And Overview

Textbook: Course: Textbooks And Other Resources Needed For This Class


MATH 1210 or 1310 or 1311 (grade of "C-" or better).   If (when?) you find you may have forgotten some math information you need in this class, check out the Khan Academy and others linked in the RESOURCE section of the assignments for help.  The MATH tutoring center and TAs are also available to help you.

No previous experience with electronics or programming is assumed or needed in this class. We will be starting from scratch. However, many students in this class will have had some experience, either formal or informal, and a few students will have had a lot of experience.  If you are someone with little or no experience, do not be intimidated!  We will be working together, and the course is designed to start from the beginning. If you are someone with some or much experience, do not be bored!  It is likely we will be looking at the concepts in somewhat different ways than you have in the past, and I hope you will gain new ideas from this way of thinking.  The applications I have included in nearly every lecture are likely to be of interest to students at all levels.  Please do not feel you have to limit your exploration of electrical engineering to only what is in the homework.  Extra credit assignments are given specifically to enable and encourage you to explore areas you are interested in in more depth.  I hope you will enjoy this class as much as I will enjoy teaching it. 

 ECE 1250 Canvas Website:  A link to the course website on Canvas should appear on your CIS login page (the same place you login to register for classes).  When you need to login to Canvas, you use the same username (uID number) and password as you use to login to CIS.  An easy way to get to most of your ECE classes is to use our standard URLs:  You can also go directly to the Canvas site login for the class here:  So... if you are reading this syllabus online, you clearly found the class website!

What We will be Learning (Course Outcomes):

My big goal is that at the end of this class, you will successfully invent a sensor system of your own choosing.  

To accomplish this, you will learn to:

  • Design, evaluate (with theory/math and simulation), build, test, and debug simple electrical/computer engineering circuits using voltage and current sources, resistors and capacitors, op amps, and diodes to accomplish specific engineering tasks. 
  • Explain applications in electrical and computer engineering including: electrical circuit design, sensors, signal processing, communications, electromagnetics, control and embedded systems.
  • Program Matlab for applications in electrical & computer engineering.

FLIPPED CLASS (Step-by-Step) -- ECE 1250 is NOT your average lecture class: What Students Should Know About the Flipped Classroom

Step 1: 1-2 days BEFORE class... Look at the Question of the Day (QOD).  This is material you will learn in the lecture/text for that day.  

Step 2: 1-2 days BEFORE class ... Watch the lecture videos (OR read the textbook section).  Take notes that answer the QOD. 

Step 3: Turn in the Question of the Day BEFORE class.  Scan/photo your notes and turn them in online (preferred) OR bring a COPY to class and turn it in at the beginning of class. You will need these notes to do you homework, so keep a copy for yourself. Why do I make you turn this in before class?  The credit/grade you get for QOD is for being prepared to work together when you come to class.  This makes a HUGE difference in how well you can learn, so the grade is a 'bribe' to do the right thing for your learning anyway.

Step 4: Come to class.  Class will NOT be a repeat of the lecture.  We will work together actively solving examples and some of your homework problems, and answering questions (so bring your questions with you).  And we will talk about how to apply what you are learning in real-world applications.  Teaching this way approximately doubles the amount of time we have together, and gives me time to really work with you on the common problems that crop up in your homework.

Step 5: Finish your homework THAT DAY.  If you can spend some additional time that day (or at least before the next class) finishing the homework for that day, you will be well-prepared for the next day, which typically builds on the previous day.  If you wait until the homework is due (Monday nights), you will probably feel somewhat lost as the week progresses.  Sure, you can pick this up on the weekend, but that is less efficient.  It is fantastic if you can work with other students on your homework, so get a study group together.  You will learn from other people's questions and problems as much as you learn from your own successes.

Go to Step 1 to Prepare for the next day  ...


Midterm I or Final Part 1          17% << Most of your grade is based on learning the material and doing well on the exams or makeups

Midterm II or Final Part 2         17%

Midterm III or Final Part 3         17%

Midterm IV or Final Part 4        17%

Questions of the Day                 3%  << This is credit for class preparation. You can also use these notes on the exams, so it helps there too.

Homework                                7% << This is credit for practicing the material to help you learn.

Matlab Homework                     9% << Matlab used to be a separate class, but we integrated it into ECE1250 so you could actually USE it. 

Labs                                       13% << This is credit for actually building and testing your circuits.

Total                                         100%

Grades are assigned by an absolute grading scale based on percentage total for course:

≥ 93%    A       ≥ 90%    A-

≥ 87%    B+     ≥ 83%    B      ≥ 80%    B-

≥ 77%    C+     ≥ 73%    C      ≥ 70%    C-

≥ 67%    D+     ≥ 63%    D      > 60%    D-

≤ 60%    E 

Exams:  Four midterm exams are scheduled as shown on the class schedule.  Please check your personal schedule to be sure that you do not have conflicts with these exams.  You must take exams on the day listed in the schedule unless you have a university excused absence or a documented medical emergency. 

The final exam is OPTIONAL.  It can be used to improve any or all of your midterm scores.  The final is broken into 4 parts, and each part is a 'retake' for one of the midterms.  You can retake any or all midterms during the final.  You will automatically receive whichever grade is higher -- the midterm or the equivalent retake on the final.  Note that I will start the final early, at 6am, to allow extra time for students who either want to spend more time on an individual section or who are taking all parts of the final.

Questions of the Day: Each day a question(s) is assigned, which is exactly what I want you to learn that day (no surprises here).  Make notes in your own words on about one page.  Include anything you need from the book (like tables, equations, etc.).  You will be able to use these notes on the exams, but will not be able to use your textbook. So be sure everything you need is there.  As you do you homework, if you find things that are missing, add them in.  You will turn the QOD in before class, but KEEP A COPY for yourself.  You are welcome to add to these notes as needed throughout the semester.

Homework:  There will typically be one homework assignment per lecture.  Additional examples or similar problems are also provided.  All or most o the solutions are given.  Yep, that's right.  You have the solution manual.  PLEASE DO NOT SHARE IT OUTSIDE OF THIS CLASS!!!  (that would be unethical, since not all professors want their students to have it).  But I think it is not helpful to be stuck on a problem, do it wrong, repeat your mistake on half a dozen other problems, and then discover all of this later. So.  You have the solutions available to check your work and get you unstuck as needed. HOWEVER, if you need to use the solution manual to get unstuck, then it means you probably didn't understand the concepts sufficiently well.  DO ANOTHER optional problem, until you can do them without the manual.  The problems assigned are the MINIMUM I think you will need to do.  When you struggle with a concept, please do additional problems and examples until you can do them 'gracefully'.  

Matlab Homework:  These assignments are similar to other homework assignments but involve writing code in MATLAB.


  • The Lab Grade will be based on:

100%  Attendance (mandatory): Do not miss a lab.  If you are traveling, contact Dr. Furse in advance to determine how to make up a lab.  If you have an emergency or serious illness, contact Dr. Furse immediately upon your return to determine how to join in with a different lab group to make up your lab. 

100% Weekly Prelab, Lab, Writeups (see ‘Writeup’ instructions associated with each lab for grading details)

  • Permission codes and Lab Waiting Lists:

If you want to change your lab section, and the one you want is full, please submit a permission code request form (use 2nd link) to get on the waiting list.  Mandi Peterson processes the requests and can let you know how many are ahead of you, so you have an idea if you are likely to get into that section or not.  Mandi also handles permission codes for the class, with the permission of the professor.  If you are needing special permission for some reason, please email me

Extra Credit:  Extra Credit can be used if you forget to turn in your homework, if you just don’t do it, etc.   These can be used to give you a maximum of 100% on your combined HW/Lab scores.  Extra credit assignments can be turned in  through the last day of class.  You can find extra credit throughout the semester on the class website.

Errors: If you find a mistake in the online lecture notes, textbook, solution manual, lab handouts, etc., email me the mistake (details, please, so I can fix it!) plus your corrections.  You may receive extra homework points for mistakes found, if you are the first person in the class to notice them. Here are errors already found in the textbook (sorry, no extra credit points for these!)  Circuits-2e_errata.pdf

Work Load:  It is anticipated that a typical student will need to spend the following amount of time each week:

3 hours watching videos

3 hours in class

3 hours in lab

6-9 hours on homework

1-2 hours on prelab and writeup

Additional time studying for exams.

16+ hours per week

 PLEASE plan your schedule so that you have time to learn the material.  I am delighted to have the opportunity to teach you about electrical & computer engineering, which I hope you have as much fun with in your career as I have in mine.  I am very confident that you will find many times in your career when you will be able to apply this material, and I hope that you will not only learn from the class but enjoy it as well.  

Disability Accommodations:  The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities.  If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD).  CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations.  All written information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.

Please also see:  College of Engineering Course guidelines (withdrawal dates and policies, etc.)  If the dates in the guidelines have not yet been updated, please see the Academic Calendar for this semester.

Cheating Policy:  Just don't

Here are some things that constitute cheating in this class:

1)     Copying someone else's work on an exam.  If you accidentally see another student's work on an exam, WRITE a NOTE in your exam and tell me during the exam.  Honesty is of great value.  You will not be penalized for this.  Do not pass any papers to anyone for any reason during the exam.  Do not sit near your study partners during the exam.  If you use any scratch paper for doing exam problems, please just staple it at the back of your exam.  Loose scratch paper could look like notes passed between students.

2)     Copying someone else's work on homework or labs.  I hope you WILL work in groups on your homework, labs, Matlab assignments, etc.  And I hope that every team member will contribute to this work.  If you do not contribute (had to work late, missed the lab, and couldn't make the group meeting), then don't copy their work. 

What happens if you cheat?  Under UofU policy, you can (and will) receive an E in the class, be suspended from school, or be expelled from the university.  So just don't cheat.

What happens if someone else cheats?  Statistically, this could lower YOUR grade.  Please tell me or the TA or any other professor or TA (anonymously is fine) if you see instances of cheating in this or any other class.  The ECE Department is committed to reducing instances of cheating in our labs and classes in order to provide the best possible education for all students.  I have worked to set up my class so that there is no need nor reason to cheat.  Just learn the material, and let me give you the credit for what you have learned.

I'm glad to have you in my class!  I hope this will be a great semester for you, that you will learn a lot of really interesting things, and that you will fan the spark of interest you have in engineering into a good flame!

-Your Professor, Dr. Furse


Course Summary:

Date Details Due