The course consists of the following elements (everything is described in detail on the calendar):
We will try to ensure that the workload is typical for a four-credit course, namely, nine to twelve hours per week outside of the lectures. If we do not succeed, please let us know in whichever way you feel the most comfortable (person-to-person, e-mail, feedback form) and explain which parts of the course are causing you to spend too much time non-productively.
We have structured the course so that spending an hour or two per day will maximize your efficiency. You will work this way in the real world—you cannot cram a three-month design assignment into the last night—so you may as well work this way now. Plus, you will understand the material better. If you leave the homework for the day before it is due you will not have time to ask questions when (not if) the software misbehaves.
Software tools frequently consume more time then they should. We have designed the assignments to get you up to speed gradually (over the period of a few weeks), but undoubtedly there will be some start-up cost (as with any new tool). Essentially, you are learning a new language, a compiler, and getting familiar with a process. Every tool imposes a certain model. Your frustration can be high until you assimilate that model and learn to use it effectively. Be sure to use the tutorials, and do not spend countless hours making no progress. Ask for help. Remember that these tools are written by engineers for engineers and will not necessarily conform to expectations you may have of consumer-oriented tools such as Word.
Your assignments must be neat and legible. We will not spend time trying to decipher messy work. We urge you to use the graphical and word processing tools that are readily available to you in all the labs in the department. Please make good use of the schematic diagram editor in the tools you'll be using to make neat circuit diagrams to include in your assignments.
We will compute your course grade as follows:
Your grade will be determined by how well you understand the material as evidenced by the assignments, labs, and exams. We would like nothing better than to give the entire class a 4.0.
Weekly assignments are due at the beginning of class on the assigned due date. Late homework handed in after class starts will incur a 10% penalty (out of the maximum possible credit, i.e. you get punished by 1 point out of 10). We will penalize your assignment an extra 10% per day for each additional day late. Homework will no longer be accepted after a solution has been published (usually within a couple of days).
Assignment problems will be graded on a random basis. To get full credit for an assignment, you must, of course, turn-in solutions for each assigned problem. Only a subset of the problems will actually be graded in detail. You will not know in advance which problems this will be - so make sure to do all of them. You are strongly encouraged to review the assignment solutions to ensure you understood all the problems whether they are graded or not and make sure to do so carefully before questioning a grade with either the instructor or the teaching assistants.
Homework: Unless specifically stated otherwise, we encourage collaboration on homework, provided (1) You spend at least 15 minutes on each and every problem alone, before discussing it with others, and (2) You write up each and every problem in your own writing, using your own words, and understand the solution fully. Copying someone else's homework is cheating (see below), as is copying the homework from another source (prior year's notes, etc.). Homework assignments are your chance to practice the concepts and make sure you know them well. The quiz problems will be very similar to the homework problems; if you truly understand the homework, then the quizzes will be easy.
Cheating is a very serious offense. If you are caught cheating, you can expect a failing grade and initiation of a cheating case in the University system. Basically, cheating is an insult to the instructor, to the department and major program, and most importantly, to you and your fellow students. If you feel that you are having a problem with the material, or don't have time to finish an assignment, or have any number of other reasons to cheat, then talk with the instructor. Just don't cheat.
To avoid creating situations where copying can arise, never e-mail or post your solution files. You can post general questions about interpretation and tool use but limit your comments to these categories. If in doubt about what might constitute cheating, send the instructor email describing the situation.