CSC 7011
Computer Engineering
A required course in the FSC MS program
Spring 2017 -- 4 credit hours

Meeting in Edgerly 203
Thurs: 3:30AM-7:30PM
Jan 19 - May 11, 2016

Contact Information

Instructor:Stephen Taylor
Office: Edgerly 312A
Office hours: WF 2PM
Web page:
Office phone: 978-665-3704
Home phone: 508-867-9288

Catalog description

This is a course in computer engineering. It is an introduction to computer hardware. We survey analog and digital electronics, computer architecture, assembly language, and interfacing computer peripherals. There is a weekly lab in which students confront the physical reality behind these concepts.

Course goals

You should finish this course with background in how a computer works, able to participate in design of integrated hardware/software systems.

You will become familiar with multimeters, oscilloscopes, and other tools used for diagnosing and understanding circuits.

You will get a basic understanding of resistance and reactance; of frequency response and amplification.

You will design and build small devices using SSI and MSI technology.

You will learn various architectural features used in computer design, and how they affect computer cost and performance, and

You will design peripheral devices to communicate with computer systems, and write software to use them.

Attendance policy

Course meetings include quizzes and labs. Both of these activities require your presence. Quizzes must be taken on the day they are given, and may not be made up. Labs may be rescheduled by arrangement with the instructor, but are an important part of the course, and must be completed on schedule. During the first several meetings of the course, I call the roll. Once I learn names and faces I stop calling the roll, but I continue to be interested in your presence.

Course resources

The required textbook is
David Harris and Sarah Harris, Digital Electronics and Computer Architecture

The book is available in the bookstore and online. I usually buy used books from but Amazon and Ebay both sell used books, too. None of the three is consistently cheapest. You should get access to a textbook, since many weekly labs are based on readings from it.

I also recommend

Forrest Mims, Introduction to Electronics

This book is fairly old, but still quite popular, in spite of how little theory it contains. It is full of good advice.


There will be a quiz on the reading assignment almost every week. (none the first week, and none on days when there is an exam scheduled.) These quizzes test your undersanding of the reading. They will usually consist of working out a problem, similar to problems in the reading. Sometimes I will suggest problems the previous week, which it may prove helpful to understand.

Lab Projects

There will be a lab every week.

During lab, you and your lab partner will build and/or test devices. You may need to design circuits, compute component values, or write test code.

Sometimes these efforts will take too long for you to finish them in class, and you will have to make arrangements to finish later.

I have no objection to you finishing a lab at home, if you have the components and tools there, but the school's tools and components must stay in the school's lab, so in order to work outside the lab you may have to purchase materials.

Sometimes I will specify that I want to see your device operate when you have completed it. This is not a problem when you are working in the lab, but if not, you may have to bring it in to school.

In addition to constructing and measuring a circuit or device in the lab, you will submit a written report including the following sections:

  1. The purpose of the lab
  2. A complete design, with component values and code if necessary. If calculations were necessary, show your calculations.
  3. A narrative telling exactly what you did, what you took from the assignment, the book, or the web, and what your lab partner did.
  4. A summary of the final results.
The lab report should be detailed enough so that rereading it in forty years, you should be able to figure out enough details to explain it to your grandchildren.

Lab reports should be typed. Circuit diagrams or calculation pages may be drawn or written by hand. Both lab partners must submit the lab, and although any measurements you make will presumably be the same, the report itself should be different; everyone must write a separate report.


There will be quizzes almost every week during the term. Almost everyone who turns a quiz in will receive full credit, whether their answer is correct or not. However, you should make sure that you understand what the correct answer is, because the final exam will include problems drawn from the quizzes, and will be graded much more fiercely.


Topic and lab schedule

Grading policy

Lab Participation: 20%
Lab reports: 45%
Weekly quizzes: 10%
Exams, including final 25%

Late work

Deadlines are made to be bent, but exceptions create extra work for me. Lab reports are due each week at the beginning of class. Work received after 3:35 PM is late. I may give credit or partial credit for late work, but you should talk to me as soon as you know it will be late. I will always give at least partial credit for partial work turned in on time, so turning in something incomplete but on time is a sensible strategy.

Each student is responsible for completing all course requirements and for keeping up with all activities of the course (whether a student is present or not).


I expect you to be so interested in your projects that you discuss them with everyone, including your mom, your little brother, and other members of the class (who will at least know what they're being sympathetic about.) So I won't be too surprised if several people come up with the same idea, or even the same neat design trick.

Often, one team in the lab will finish before others. Watching their success, asking others for help, or offering assistance with the lab are all legitimate.

But I want each lab team to do each lab completely, so that everyone participates in building devices.

I don't want you to share typing on the lab report, even with your partner, except that both lab partners may submit the same calculations, designs, and programs.

To keep from confusing me, you should mention everyone you talked to and every web site you looked at in your lab report.

I consider it plagiarism to share typing or fail to give credit to other peoples' ideas.

Fitchburg State College has an Academic Integrity policy, which can be found in the college catalog. Penalties for academic dishonesty, including submitting work which is not your own, or work you have done for other courses, and assisting other students on examinations, can be severe.


If you require course adaptations or accommodation because of a disability or acute medical condition or if you require assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation of the classroom, please see the instructor as soon as possible. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with the Office of Disability Services on the 3rd floor of the Hammond Building.