Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

Lessons from Ten Years of the International Master's Program in System-on-Chip

Peter Nilsson, Pietro Andreani, KrzysztofKuchcinski, Joachim Rodrigues, Henrik Sj6land, Markus T6rmanen, Lars-Erik Wernersson, and Viktor O walL

Abstract-In July 2000 the five-year Swedish national "Socware Research & Education Program " was started. One of the aims of the program was to develop an innovative unique educational curriculum in System-on­ Chip design. The program was targeted at undergraduate and graduate. In total the program received USD $15 million funding. In 2005 the program entered a new phase; more than 500 Master's students were admitted and 30 PhD students were funded. Cooperation between the System-on-Chip Master's programs in Lund, Linkoping, and Stockholm was already well­ established and the program continued in all three locations as an international Master of Science program in System-on-Chip, with local funding from the participating universities. Between 2003 and 2013 there were 3500 applicants to the program in Lund, an average of 350 applicants per year, of these 250 (8%) were accepted. This paper focuses on the international Master of Science Program in System-on-Chip at Lund University,Sweden.

Keywords-ASIC, CMOS, IC, Integrated Circuit, Master of Science, Master's Program,SoC, System-on-Chip.

I.

INTRODUCTION

A new curriculum in System-on-Chip (SoC) design was, and still is, the goal of the program. When the program was introduced only a few similar programs existed. In 1999 de Man reported on an agenda for the organization of a new curriculum based on a SoC methodology [1]. Similar ideas begun to be developed elsewhere but still there was some time before the new framework had much impact on curricula. Sweden was at the forefront of these developments and amongst the first countries to introduce SoC Master's Programs [2].

The national "Socware Research & Education Program" lasted from July 2000 until July 2005. After a planning and course development period, the educational program started in 2003 in Lund and has now been running for 1 0 years.

In total the "Socware Research & Education Program" received USD $15 million of funding of which one third was reserved for educational programs. Funding came from two sources: the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications and the Knowledge Foundation. The Socware program paid for faculty members, course development, the full costs of educating students and the tools needed in the laboratories.

The program concept was introduced in the year 2000 [3], and startup activities in Lund began in the 2002/2003 academic year [4]. The PhD program ended in summer 2005, when the Socware program entered a new phase. By this time the three Master's programs in Link6ping, Lund and Stockholm were well established and these continued as individual international Master of Science degree programs in SoC design. In this new phase the programs were funded locally by each university. This paper focuses on the experience of running the international Master of Science Program in System-on-Chip design at Lund University.

II.

THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM IN LUND

The SoC program at Lund University marked a new direction for education in the fields Electrical Engineering (EE) and Computer Engineering (CE) in Sweden. Compared with the other two Swedish Master's degree programs in EE and CE, the SoC program at Lund University has a larger emphasis on application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, and a focus on wireless communication. Three areas were highlighted in the curriculum: radio frequency (RF) design, high frequency data converters, and digital baseband

design; all based on complementary metal oxide semI­ conductor (CMOS) technologies.

Lessons from Ten Years of the International Master's Program in System-on-Chip Peter Nilsson, Pietro Andreani, KrzysztofKuchcinski,

The move away from traditional EE and CS programs towards SoC was motivated by the widespread predictions of dramatic changes in ASICs. It was predicted that new silicon technologies would be able to integrate whole systems on a single silicon die, a prediction that become a reality. EE and CE training traditionally specialized in a single area such as digital, mixed mode or RF design; however, very specialized knowledge is not sufficient if an entire system is to be placed on a single die. Different components on the chip will affect others and they must work together as one unit, making an understanding of all the parts necessary. A new generation of engineers would need more interdisciplinary knowledge than traditional engineers and should be trained accordingly. The new curriculum was developed to include domains such as analog/RF, mixed mode, digital circuits and embedded systems. A typical example of a SoC is shown in Fig. 1. The complete system includes 3 modules: an analog/mixed signal module, a digital module, and an embedded systems module. Typical components of an analogiRF module are amplifiers, mixers and filters. Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog converters are typical blocks in a mixed mode module. The digital unit often has dedicated circuitry for operations that require a lot of computational capacity such as Fast Fourier Transforms FFT/IFFTs, vector and matrix operations and filters. The embedded module contains both software and hardware; the hardware is often in the form of a processor.

r - - - - Embedded System - --- -, r - - - - -
r - - - - Embedded System - --- -, r - - - - - Digital Baseband - - - -- -,
I
I
I
I
I
'-----" I
I
..
.I
L _________________
r- - -- - ---- - ------- - -,

Fig. 1. A typical System-on-Chip, containing three domains, all on the same CMOS chip. Note that the figure does not describe a particular system. The illustration is only for the purpose to show the idea of the System-on­ Chip methodology.

The SoC illustrated in Fig. 1 contains many blocks that would not be novel as a single block, the innovation is that they are all are placed on the same chip and are all using a silicon-based CMOS technology

The objective of the program is to give students a comprehensive knowledge of integrated CMOS design. For a long time CMOS has been, and still is, the leading technology for the design of large digital systems. This is due to its low manufacturing cost, reliability and high yield. However, CMOS technologies are not optimal for analog design. The technologies used today are, however, so compact that there is room to include both, but to make a CMOS SoC including both digital and analog technologies requires a dramatic change in design methodology. The chosen technology must be based on CMOS. The SoC curriculum, therefore, focuses on design for more than one domain. It is a real challenge to design analog CMOS circuits in a low-voltage CMOS process just as it is a real challenge to design digital circuitry without disturbing the analog parts.

978-1-4799-4016-5/14/$31.00 ©2014 IEEE

187

A.

A brief history

When the program was introduced, it included courses worth a total of 60 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credit points, followed by a 30 credit point Master's thesis. It was thus a three-semester program in which the last semester was devoted to a SoC project.

The years following, the introduction of the program discussions about the Bologna process increased and a new European higher education system was introduced. One of the changes introduced was that to achieve a Master's degree, students had to complete a three-year Bachelor degree followed by a two-year Master's program. These changes prompted a major reorganization of the SoC program in 2007. The program became a two-year Master of Science program consisting of 90 ECTS course credits and a 30-credit thesis.

When the program was introduced there were no tuition fees, but all Swedish Master's programs introduced tuition fees in 2011. In Lund the tuition fee is around USD $20,000 per year and the students pay according to the number of ECTS credits their courses are worth.

  • B. Program and course development

The new SoC curriculum, introduced in 2003, required a large amount course development work. Some courses were entirely new and others were redesigned to fit the program. An important change was the introduction of a clearly defined, mandatory curriculum dealing with SoC, which the EE and CE curricula did not include. Course development was funded by the Socware program.

  • C. Tools and equipment

Most of the SoC courses include a large proportion of laboratory work and projects. To fulfill the requirements of modern education a learning environment comprising 16 of the latest Linux machines, one workstation for a team of two students, was provided. The Linux machines were, and are, upgraded frequently. The machines have the most recent Cadence software and a computer-aided design (CAD) tool for designing integrated circuits installed; this software is updated frequently. Modern silicon technologies are provided. Each year some of the project designs are sent for fabrication. These fabricated designs are tested using state-of­ the-art testing equipment.

  • m. MANDATORY COURSES

  • A. Mandatory Course Block

When the program started it included only 2 semesters of courses; it now lasts 3 semesters, but the initial objectives of the SoC curriculum have not changed. Fig. 2 shows SoC courses in the current program. These courses form the core of the curriculum. The mandatory courses are described briefly below. These courses are rooted in the courses that made up the program when it was first introduced.

1)

Analog IC Design

The

course

provides

a

good

understanding of the

possibilities and limitations of implementation of analog functions on silicon. The focus is on CMOS technologies and circuits in a SoC environment. Analog circuits with a sufficiently high performance are vital.

2)

Integrated AID and DIA Converters

The course provides a basic knowledge of data converters, which are placed in the interface between analog and digital signals. The focus is on speed, dynamic range, area, and power consumption. Embedded converters in a SoC environment are taught.

3)

Digital IC Design

The objective is a thorough understanding of transistor models, design of combinational and sequential logic, memories and arithmetic circuits. There is also an emphasis on areas such as parasitics that are important for performance, power and noise in a SoC environment. Test is also included.

4)

Introduction to Structured VLSI Design

The course provides knowledge of digital hardware realization, particularly fast prototyping on an FPGA platform. Students should gain the knowledge required to implement blocks typical of a larger digital system. The basic concept of VHDL and tool training are taught.

5)

Design of Embedded Systems

The goal of this course is to give a general introduction to embedded systems design, which can be implemented by using a SoC technology. These kinds of embedded systems contain both hardware and software, i.e. hardware/software co-design is emphasized.

6)

IC project 1 and 2

The IC project can be analoglRF, mixed mode, or digital. It can also be a SoC combination of these. Students are often divided into groups to cooperate on a larger design. Some designs are sent for fabrication and measured when they are back.

7)

Master's Thesis Work

The student must also produce a Master's thesis in the area of SoC and circuit design. The project work is usually done in industry or in close association with university research. It may be done abroad, but the project must still be in the name of Lund University. The Master's thesis is a 30-credit project taking I semester, full time.

8)

Patent and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

This is a non-technical course. Students learn about different IPRs, their sources of legal and conventional material and the basis and application of these laws. Issues of intellectual property such as patents, copyright, trademarks, and design are covered.

System-on-Chip 2013-2015 Introduction to Modern I DO 'gl a °t I IC D eSlgn 0 I
System-on-Chip 2013-2015
Introduction to
Modern
I
DO
'gl a
°t
I IC
D
eSlgn
0
I
I
I
I
Structured VLSI
Electronics
0
N
,
Integrated ND
Analog IC-
Cornputer
I
I
II
I
and D/A Convo
design
Architecture
0
N
B
Intellectual
Integrated Radio I I
Q.)
I
I
I
DSP Design
I
>-<
Property Rights
ElectrOnics
I C Project and
C/O
...
Verification I
ii:
Ernbedded
Advanced ND
Advanced
I
I
I
II
I
Systerns
and D/A Convo
Analog Design
l
Ernbedded SYSo
on
-
I
Advo Course
0
I C Project and
N
,
Verification II
-T
I
High Speed
-
I
0
Devices
N
ti°
l
Q.)
Algo in Signal proco
>-<
I
Project Course
"r::l
Master's Thesis
"
0
Work
(.)
I
Q.)
I
Microsensors
Vl
I
SoC, Mandatory
I
I
SoC, Elective
I

Fig. 2. SoC courses in the current program, mandatory to the left and elective to the right.

Course 6, the IC Project, is the flagship component of the program. It is an entirely project-based course worth 7.5 + 7.5 ECTS credits, taking 1 semester, half time.

188

The aim of Course 6 is to provide knowledge of practical design of integrated circuits, with an emphasis on Soc. Analog/digital SoC constructions may be designed. The course takes the form of project work, in which small groups of students collaborate in applying knowledge gained from earlier courses to design a chip. Several groups can collaborate on a project to create a larger system. The course provides the students with a rare, valuable opportunity to design a complete chip in real silicon, and the chance to have their design submitted for fabrication at the end of the project.

The manufacturing of the designs takes about 3 months, and they are assessed in the second IC-project course. The intention is that the project should have a broad focus, with parts that are analog, mixed mode, and digital. Such a project is well suited to collaboration involving different groups designing the different parts.

(a) (b) Fig. 3. Chip photo of a CMOS image sensor and an FM transmitter.
(a)
(b)
Fig. 3.
Chip photo of a CMOS image sensor and an FM transmitter.

Fig. 3a shows an example, which was a successful student project in which a CMOS image sensor was connected to an FM transmitter and a phase-locked loop [5]. Two groups, 4 students, developed the SoC design. Only the piece of silicon is shown in the figure. In the middle of the chip, the processing core and the sensor are shown. At the borders the pads i.e. 56 connections to the world outside of the chip, can be seen. The size of the chip is l.75mm by l.75mm; it is shown life-size in Fig. 3b.

Course I Course 2 Course 3 - 4
Course I
Course 2
Course 3 - 4

Fig. 4.

A typical radio transceiver.

It should be noted that courses 1--4 cover all the parts in a radio transceiver as shown in Fig. 4. This is also how the research groups in circuit design are organized. The latest results from the research are thus filtered down to the students. Fig. 4 also shows a typical example of a Soc. This organization of the program is deliberate. Lund is a town with a very high population of wireless designers and there is always a need for skilled persons in the wireless field. Around 7000 employees are working on research and development (R&D) in the local wireless industry.

B.

Discussion

Courses 1-5 are based on both theory and practice. The theory is taught through lectures and exercises. Close contact between students and teachers is important both for students and teachers. It brings the students closer to research and the teachers/researchers get to know the students, which facilitate the selection of candidates for future research projects and possible PhD studies. The teachers are, therefore, happy to

make themselves available to answer questions, provide supervision etc. One indication of the close contact between student courses and research interests is that over 30 student projects have resulted in papers published in international peer-reviewed journals or in patents. Another positive effect of the close contact between student courses and research interests is that when graduates move into industry the contact network between the university and industry increases. Both the university and industry benefit from this, as is evident from the two-way flow of personnel; industry employees move back to Lund University and vice versa. There are also joint workshops and projects and guest lectures by experts working in industry. The program provides a way for industry to get in contact with the students and for the students to see what goes on in industry.

A major part of the courses making up the program is devoted to laboratory work using the most modem CAD tools for design work. The hands-on training, which gives students the opportunity to practice what they learned in the theoretical part of the course, is very popular among the students.

IV.

ELECTIVE SYSTEM-ON-CHIP COURSES

  • A. Elective System-on-Chip Courses

The elective SoC courses, shown to the right in Fig. 2, include other courses based on theory followed by laboratory work. Courses 9-15 shown below all include a large block of computer-based training to supplement the theoretical work.

9) AdvancedAID and DIA Converters 10) AdvancedAnalog Design

11) ComputerArchitecture 12) DSP-design

13)

High-Speed Devices

14)

Integrated Radio Electronics

15)

Modern Electronics

Four of the elective courses, courses 16-19 detailed below, are project-based, and for these courses the students work in groups. A special course, "Project in System-on­ Chip", can be chosen. This is a 15 ECTS credit course that can be undertaken in industry or at the university. The project must be related to SoC and connected to research. It is also possible to use the project course as an opportunity for a long thesis project or as a preparation for the thesis project.

16) Algorithms in Signal Processors - Project Course

17)

Embedded Systems Design, Advanced Course

18) Microsensors

19)

Project in System-an-Chip

As can be seen, the System-on-Chip part of the curriculum has a large focus on practice, based on theoretical knowledge. All these courses have practical training. The goal is that the students should be very skilled on IC-design in a practical perspective based on a solid theoretical foundation.

  • B. Other Elective Courses

There are 3 elective courses in radio electronics. These courses are based on lumped high frequency components. The reason for including this course block is the program's strong connections with the local wireless communication industry.

A block of 3 courses in radio systems is also included in the curriculum. These courses are theoretical and provide grounding in wireless communication. They are partly based on simulation of communication systems. These courses are also motivated by the program's strong connections with the local wireless communication industry.

189

Finally, the program includes 3 courses in nano electronics. These courses comprise theory, laboratory work and projects. This block is included to provide a deeper understanding of the physics behind the integrated circuit. In this block students are introduced to current research on future technologies, often based on exotic materials.

C.

Discussion

With the exception of the radio systems courses, the elective courses are based on applying the theory that is learned in the course and/or in preceding courses. This gives the program a practical focus, which is very much appreciated by the students. A total of 85% of the available course credits are at advanced level, the highest level of learning, according to [6]. Advanced level courses require students to "Theorize, Generalize, Hypothesize, and Reflect". The courses are generally at a high level in general owing to the strong connections with researchers who disseminate the latest research results to the students. All SoC courses are taught by researchers: 5 full professors, 4 associate professors, 1 assistant professors and a number of PhD students. The program thus has very strong connections with current research. Master's thesis projects are based directly on current research interests of the teaching staff.

It should also be noted that all courses in the program are open to both home and international students; home students work together with the international students and this interaction is much appreciated by the students. The students learn a lot about different cultures and improve their English.

  • V. ApPLICANTS AND GRADUATED

A.

Applicants

Fig. 5 shows the number of applicants together with the number students who actually started the SoC program. There have been 3500 applicants, from which 250 students were accepted and started the program. In total, 8% of the applicants have come to Lund from elsewhere.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

Year

Fig. 5. The number of applicants, in the dark bars, and the number of students that actually started,in the light bars.

Some trends can be noted:

The number of applicants was stable, at over 300 during the early years, from 2003 to 2006. This was the period in which the program was a 90 ECTS credit Master's program. During this period 7.5% of applicants were accepted and enrolled on the program. It was thus a fairly popular Master's program.

Between 2007 and 20 10, the program was a 120 credit Master of Science program; during this period there was a linear increase of the number of applicants, up to the record level of 664 applicants. The most likely explanation for the increase in applications is that former students acted as ambassadors for the program in their home countries. It may

also be important that the program changed from being a Master's program to a Master of Science program. During this period, 6.9% of applicants actually started.

From 2011 onwards the program has charged tuition fees and this change is evident in the number of applications. The number of applicants has reduced dramatically to around 150 per year. During this period 9.2% of applicants actually started but the absolute numbers of students enrolling is much lower than previously. There are not many students who can afford the tuition fees. Students who are citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland are not required to pay tuition fees.

  • B. Number ofStudents Graduating

Fig. 6 compares the number of graduated students, the dark bars, with the number of students who started the program, the light grey numbers, also given in Fig. 5.

It can be seen that all students graduated for enrolment years 2003 and 2005. In the early years, 2003-2006, the proportion of students graduating was 92%, a very high proportion compared with the EE program. The remaining students from these years will probably not gain a degree.

Tn total, 68% of students from the 2007-20 I 0 enrolment periods have graduated. There still are students from this period in the system. Many students find it hard to cover their living expenses in Sweden and take a break from their studies to take paid employment and save some more money. International students postpone graduation whilst they look for a job or a PhD place because once they have graduated

they cannot extend their visa and have to move back home. 40 Master Master of Science
they cannot extend their visa and have to move back home.
40
Master
Master of Science
Master of Science
36
1
without tuition
without
35
with tuition
35
1
tuition
30
1 30
en
-=
30
1
v
26
26
25 25
"""
24 24
1
::l
23
25
1
22
20
4-
19
1
0
20
18
....
1
OJ
15
14
.D
15
1
EO
12
1
::l
9
10
8
Z
1
1
I
n �
1
0
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
20 I 0
20 I I
2012
2013

Year

Fig. 6. The number of graduated students, in the dark bars, and the number of students that actually started,in the light bars.

  • C. Discussion

For financial reasons, only 8% of applicants are offered a place on the program, indicating that the number of students who want to take this degree at Lund University is very high. When the program became a Master of Science program the number of applicants increased. The introduction of tuition fees has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of students enrolling. A very high proportion of the student graduates, 92%, and many international students wait to take their degree in the hope of getting an opportunity to stay in Lund and Sweden.

VI.

ASSESSMENT

  • A. Course Experience Questionnaire

For about ten years Lund University has been using a course experience questionnaire (CEQ) [7] to obtain students' evaluations of courses. The Faculty of Engineering's annual report covers 6 items from the evaluation of each course, given below.

190

1.

2.

3.

Good Teaching.

Clear Goals and Standards.

Appropriate Assessment.

  • 4. Appropriate Workload.

  • 5. Overall, I am satisfied with this course.

  • 6. The course seems important for my education.

Table I shows how students graded the mandatory courses on the 6 items above. The questionnaire is given to both home and international students and the results cannot be analyzed by group, but it still gives an indication of student opinion.

The scores for all 6 statements were fairly high. Item 6:

"The course seems important for my education" attracted very high marks, 82% on average. The course IC project was obviously very popular with students, attracting a score of 97% for Item 6. Item 5, "Overall, I am satisfied with this course" were also fairly high, with an average score of 72%.

TABLE I. SELECTED PARTS OF THE CEQ EVALUATION USING A 0-100 SCALE WHERE 100 INDICATES COMPLETE
TABLE I.
SELECTED PARTS OF THE CEQ EVALUATION USING A 0-100
SCALE WHERE 100 INDICATES COMPLETE SATISFACTION.
Statement
1.
2.
3.
5.
73
4.
6.
Analog IC Design
60
42
72
27
50
Integrated AJD and D/A Converters
62
64
54
30
63
73
57
Digital IC Design
56
63
64
54
90
74
Introduction to Structured VLSI Design
77
77
71
86
94
Design of Embedded Systems
61
64
64
67
72
86
IC project 1 and 2
71
67
80
42
83
97
Patent and Intellectual Property Rights
65
69
56
65
80
76
Average
64
64
67
51
72
82

Item 4: "Appropriate Workload" received the lowest scores, with an average of 51%. This suggests that students think that they have to work hard for the credits on these courses. Although students value the IC project course, it also has a high work load, as indicated by the low score, 42%, for Item 4. The courses "Analog IC Design" and "Integrated AID and D/ A Converters" also have a high work load.

  • B. Self-evaluation of the Master's Program

The Swedish Government demands that a self-evaluation of all higher education programs is carried out every four years. The Swedish Higher Education Authority has the task of evaluating all higher education programs. Program Executives prepare a 30--40 page self-evaluation, which is submitted to the Authority, where it is evaluated by experts. The latest report, was published in October 2013.

The framework for evaluation is summarized in the following terms: "Courses and programs have to be evaluated on the basis of how well they fulfill the requirements laid down in the Higher Education Act and the qualification descriptors in the statutes linked to the Act. In other words, the Swedish Higher Education Authority assesses to what extent the learning outcomes achieved by the students correspond to the intended learning outcomes.".

Three evaluation domains are specified:

Knowledge and understanding

Competence and skills

Judgment and approach

The sub-domains include: knowledge and understand­ ding, methodology, critical analytical skills, independence, oral and written communication in a national and international context and scientific competence. The programs are assessed on a three-level scale:

Very high quality High quality Inadequate quality

The SoC program was rated "High quality" in all domains.

  • C. Master's Thesis Work

Lund University administration also investigates student opinion of the Master's thesis projects. However, Master's students on the SoC program are grouped with the EE students in this evaluation so the results are no more than suggestive. The results for some of the questions are given below:

How relevant is your thesis work for your education?

  • 1. Very relevant:71%.

  • 2. Relevant: 25%

  • 3. Not so relevant:4%.

Would you recommend that a friend to do a thesis project at the same place?

 
  • 1. Yes: 75%.

  • 2. No: 13%.

 
  • 3. Maybe: 13%.

Did you collaborate with a company or an organization?

I.

Yes:79%.

 
  • 2. No: 21%.

Did you get salary for your thesis project work?

1.

Yes: 63%.

 
  • 2. No: 33%.

These scores suggest that the thesis project is very much appreciated by the students. It is notable that many of the students did their thesis work in locations other than the university. There are two main reasons for this, firstly if the student does decent work he or she has a fairly good chance of future employment with the same company, secondly students are very often paid for thesis work undertaken in industry whereas projects based at the university do not attract any salary.

As students are working at advanced level they should be

able to "Theorize, Generalize, Hypothesize, and Reflect" [6],

as described in Section IV-C. The evaluation provides data on students' perceptions of changes in their capabilities:

How has your improved?

ability to "Theorize" and "Hypothesize"

I.

A lot: 67%.

  • 2. A little: 29%.

  • 3. Not at all: I%.

How has your ability to "Reflect" improved?

I.

A lot:58%.

  • 2. A little:38%.

  • 3. Not at all:O%.

To a large extent, the thesis work fulfills the requirements for work at an advanced level [6].

The Swedish Higher Education Authority also evaluated the Master's thesis projects. Eleven theses from the Master's program were randomly chosen. Using the same assessment scale as for the complete program each selected Master's theses was evaluated by six experts, providing a total of 66 judgments. The outcomes of this evaluation were:

Very high quality:31%

High

quality: 63%

Inadequate quality: 6%

The Master's theses were overall rated "High quality".

191

  • D. Continuous assessment Continuous

assessment

is

a

method

for

ongoing

evaluation of a course based on the student's progress. It includes discussions and assessments through the course; the

aim is to correct misunderstandings and improve teaching.

Because the SoC courses are based, to a large extent, on application of acquired theoretical knowledge, investigating students' progress with laboratory work offers a natural method of continuous assessment. Discussions with individuals quickly establish what the students have grasped and what they have misunderstood.

Hand-in problems provide an indication of the progress. Another example of continuous assessment is the use of white-board exercises, in which the student gives a presentation to the teacher and a small group of the class.

VII.

LESSONS FROM TEN YEARS OF THE SoC PROGRAM

The Swedish industry took the initiative and encouraged the formation of a national SoC program. The conclusion was that a new engineering curriculum that would produce highly educated graduates in the domains of electronics. Fruitful discussions with government organizations followed. Substantial funding for a five-year program was guaranteed. These generous grants made it possible quickly to develop courses of international quality. From this it may be concluded that good economic conditions are vital to a successful beginning with a program of this type.

As the program was introduced, a worldwide demand for skilled engineers in the fields of circuit design and wireless communications and started to increase. The concept of the program proved successful and it attracted a massive number of applicants. Selecting the best candidates was one of the main challenges. There were, and still are applicants trom many different countries, all using different qualification systems. A suggestion for future program development is that the selection process should be prepared before the program is launched as it takes a while to learn how to handle applications.

In

the

beginning,

the

program

comprised

one

year

of

courses. Experience suggested that one year was too short, the time passed quickly and there was more important material, which could be included in the program; the additional content would give graduates a solid Master of Science degree. Increasing the duration of the program to cover a year and a half of courses produced a better organized program.

The Swedish Government's introduction of expensive tuition fees has not benefited the program. There has been a large reduction in the number of students. There is a shortage of well-educated Master's graduates in the SoC field so industry does not benefit from the tuition fees either. From the government's point of view, it would be reasonable to assume that for an investment in two years of study, the industry would benefit trom a well-educated Master's graduate who has already received 15 - 20 years of education tree of charge.

In general student response to the curriculum has been very positive. The courses have received high scores in the evaluations and students are satisfied with the balance between theory and practice. A high percentage of the students take their degree. The throughput is thus high. Students also like the close contact with highly qualified teachers and professors. Students particularly value the large project course on which they develop their designs using the most modem tools, which can result in a real fabricated design using a modern CMOS technology.

The professors generally have a large network of industry contacts, which is valued by the students because indirectly it increases their chance of getting a thesis project or employment in a company. Most thesis projects are undertaken in industry, something encouraged by the professors. However, the university also has a fairly large proportion of the thesis projects; very often the brightest students who would like to be eligible for a PhD place choose a university project. Most students do their thesis work in local industry or elsewhere in Sweden, but not all. Some students have done their thesis project work abroad, in companies and research institutes in countries such as Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland.

Many of the thesis works, both at the university and in the industry have led to scientific peer-reviewed publications, which is highly appreciated since, again, a large number of the students are looking for PhD student positions after the Master - it is a merit and good training. A large number of the students also get a PhD position or an employment in Sweden, Europe, and on the American continent.

 

VIII.

CONCLUSIONS

 

The

aim

of

the

program

was

to

develop an innovative

curriculum for SoC design. The program was aimed at

undergraduate and graduate students as well as Bachelor's.

The Master of Science program in Lund focuses on SoC design, with an emphasis on wireless communication. A large part of the practical work is devoted to circuit design in the radio field. One reason for this is the high local concentration of wireless R&D. Around 7000 wireless and circuit designers work in Lund and its surroundings.

A decade of experiences has resulted in a mature and well-established program. The program is taught by high­ level professors who are internationally recognized researchers. This guarantees that the latest research results are filtered down to the students. Graduating students thus have the most up-to-date education that can be conceived.

Student evaluations indicated that the courses and the program as a whole are very popular and of a high standard. The program is well-balanced and includes a large block of SoC courses as well as blocks in radio electronics, radio systems and nano electronics.

The program has a very high graduate rate. In some years, all the students graduated. For the first 5 years the graduation rate was 92%.

REFERENCES

  • [I] Hugo De Man, "System-on-Chip Design: Impact on Education and Research," IEEE Design & Test of Computers, vol. 13, pp. 11-19,

 

July-September,1999.

 

[2]

P.

Nilsson, P.

Eles, and

H. Tenhunen, "Socware:

A new Swedish

Design Cluster for System-on-Chip," MSE 'Ol, Las Vegas, USA, pp. 44-45,June 17-18,2001.

[3]

P.

Nilsson

and

V.

Owall,

"Socware:

A

new

System-on-Chip

Curriculum

at Lund University," EWME '2002, Baiona, Spain, pp. 1-2,

May 23-24,2002.

 

[4]

H. Hedberg, T. Lenart, H. Svensson, P. Nilsson, and V. Owall, "Teaching Digital HW-Design by Implementing a Complete MP3 Decoder," MSE'03, Anaheim,USA, June 1-2,pp. 31-32,2003.

[5]

Y. Wu, X. Liu, D. Ye, V. Viswam, L. Zhu, P. Lu, D. Radjen, and H. Sjoland, "A O.13!lm CMOS L1L PLL FM Transmitter," NORCH/P 'll, Lund, Sweden, pp. 1-4,November 14-15,2011

[6]

1. B. Biggs, "What the Student does: Teaching for Quality Learning at

University," Buckingham: Open University Press, 1999.

 

[7]

P. Ramsden, "A performance indicator of teaching quality in higher education: the Course Experience Questionnaire," Studies in Higher Education, vol. 16, pp.129-150, 1991.

192