Students who choose to focus on digital electronics study how networks of semiconductor devices such as transistors perform signal-processing tasks. Examples of such tasks include generating and amplifying speech or music, TV broadcasting and displaying, cell phone and satellite communications. Students learn how to design sophisticated electronic microchips to perform these tasks in a variety of electronic systems.
The digital nature of electronic signals offers a convenient, compact and noise-free representation of information. Digital signals can be easily stored in an electronic memory and can be easily understood by digital microprocessors. Examples of engineering problems in digital electronics are: how to efficiently perform arithmetic operations with digital signals on a microprocessor, how to communicate data without losing information, and how to design a reusable reconfigurable digital processor.
Career choices are abundant in locations around the world. Commonly advertised positions include: digital electronics engineer, digital circuit design engineer and digital integrated circuit design engineer. Some major employers are Intel, AMD, Xilinx and Altera.
Students who choose to seek depth in analog electronics also learn how networks of semiconductor devices such as transistors perform signal-processing tasks.
The analog nature of electronic signals is of importance as the real world is analog, and because in modern microchips even digital circuits exhibit analog behaviour. Examples of engineering problems in analog electronics are: how to efficiently represent an analog signal such as an image recorded by a digital camera in a digital format so that it can be stored in a digital memory or processed by a microprocessor; how to send large amounts of information such as high-definition video data from one microchip to another quickly; how to send data such as a text message to a cell phone wirelessly in the presence of interference; and how to design a pacemaker or neural implant to function inside a human body.
Career choices are abundant with locations around the world. Commonly advertised positions include: electronic engineer, circuit design engineer and analog/mixed-signal integrated circuit design engineer. Some major employers are: Intel, AMD, Analog Devices, Micron, and National Semiconductor.