Probe, NIT Trichy
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Probe, NIT Trichy

Surviving Electronics and Communication Engineering: Semester 5 in a Nutshell

Your semester guide is here

1/2 an engineer, as you step into your fifth semester. It may be one of those hectic ones, but plan properly, and you will find it extremely rewarding. There are several key career-related decisions to take, not to mention the hunt towards acquiring your dream internship. Before I get to that part, let us have a basic overview of the academic subjects you will have to deal with.

(Note: This article takes reference of syllabus and curriculum followed at NITT, while most topics should be similar elsewhere)

Analog Integrated Circuits

Basic Op-Amp circuits you should remember

This is by far, one of the most interesting and practical subjects you will come across in Electronics. It’s all about Op-Amps and their applications. You can use the standard analog textbooks for problem-solving. As previously recommended, I would suggest to check up “Electronic Devices” by Thomas Floyd for the basics of Op-Amps.

Of all the online resources, the above blog is pretty useful for this subject and is highly recommended (Especially for studying the concept called Phase Locked Loop and its applications). Study topic-wise, and not chapter-wise. Understand the basic working of Op-Amps in negative and positive feedback and in time you can literally play with the circuits.

From the examination point of view, it may heavily depend on your understanding and how well you can remember the circuit diagrams and the fundamental logic behind the circuit analysis of Op-Amps. At a later stage, there will be many special circuits, and remembering all of them can be difficult (Put extra special focus on that).

If you are going to internships and placements in core electronics domain, expect questions from this course in the online tests and interviews.

Digital Signal Processors (DSPs)

Block diagram of a typical digital signal processing unit

Welcome to the true world of assembly programming. Here you will be learning about some standard architectures of various DSPs and how to program with them. The PPTs of Prof. Bhaskar is more than enough for this course for learning as well as from the examination point of few. If you are clear with the PPTs, this subject is peace, even if you don’t understand anything in assembly programming.

Similar to what you have learned in Microprocessors and Microcontrollers, here you’ll explore various architectures of DSPs, like ‘C54X’ etc.

In reality, the course is vast and huge but the way it is conducted here makes it much simpler.

Statistical Theory of Communication

Block diagram of an FIR Weiner filter

This is like an extension of Probability and Statistics. The subject is tough in its very nature. It has a lot of math and other concepts that may appear absurd without clear understanding. Most questions are generally direct from notes or ppts or material provided by the faculty. Prof. Gopi has everything recorded as video lectures. The entire subject has broadly the following topics:

  • Information measure and theory: It has basic stuff related to entropy measure, Huffman coding, Shano-fano coding, and overall the easy part. The best reference for this would be the last two chapter of the ‘Analog and Digital Communication’ by Hwei P Hsu (available in Library).
  • Various channels and channel capacities: This is an easy derivation. A standard semester question is to find the channel capacity of a binary channel. Be clear with that, which can be literally found anywhere. There is no need to memorize and it is simple enough to logically understand it.
  • Hypothesis Testing, Bayes, Minimax, and Neyman Pearson test: These are three distinct methods you will learn here. Pretty interesting stuff but you may not get time to truly explore them. The best strategy would be to form groups of three and each one of you learns one test properly and then explains how it works to the other two. This could be very effective. ‘An Introduction to Signal Detection and Estimation’ by H.V. Poor is a decent book to refer, for these topics.
  • Estimation Techniques, MMSE, MMAE, and MAP estimates: Again 3 concepts here, the best approach is the trio approach. I repeat, there is a lot of math involved and it will take some time to truly understand what these are how to actually use them practically.
  • Gaussian Noise and Matched Filter: This is another standard semester question. The matched filter topic will come again in Digital Communication in semester six. So don’t ignore or skip it here.
  • FIR and IIR Weiner filters: Another two standard topics, and with that most of the syllabus will be covered.

As for textbook references, each topic needs to be referred to from a different place. I haven’t come across one complete textbook having everything properly yet. You can make notes from the video lectures of Prof. Gopi and learn from them as well. The first time you may see a video lecture, you may feel abstract or confusing, but if you spend enough time, you will get to understand the things. Remember to have clean notes of all the key topics I mentioned here, especially, if you find this subject difficult. Proper learning of these topics should help you do decently well in exams even if you ignore the others.

Analog Communication

Types of analog modulations

This subject is super easy, barely an inconvenience! The best textbook to refer is the previously mentioned ‘Analog and Digital Communication’ by Hwei P Hsu. Everything is simple and direct and the textbook has all of it clearly explained along with the numerical problems. Broadly, you will learn about how analog signals are transmitted through a medium using various modulation techniques and about noise and calculations related to it. There is one important concept called Signal to Noise Ratio calculations. Be wary of that, apart from which, the rest is manageable.

You may also take a look at the recommended textbook by Simon Haykins and the TutorialsPoint website for additional reference.

Antennas and Waveguides

A basic but important formula you will encounter in this course.

This subject becomes easy because of the way the faculty deals with it and it’s all about learning the different types of antennas out there and design of them. There is a perfect book titled, ‘Antennas and Wave Propagation’ by G S N Raju. Trust me, this is the book you must have. You can break down the entire course into about 20 distinct topics of importance. Learn topic wise and you are good to go. It has a good mix of theory and problems, most of which will be direct. That book I mentioned has beautifully illustrated examples and chapter wise formula summaries. For the theory part, and for a quick revision, you can refer to the TutorialsPoint tutorial of this subject. Here is another useful PPT you may refer to- Link to PPT.

Electives

If you have chosen digital speech processing, there is only thing left for you to do. Prof. Gopi has authored a textbook titled, ‘Digital Speech Processing using Matlab’. Memorize every single line of it if needed. You may get the entire textbook in the exam, the questions will essentially be the headings in that textbook if the Prof. sets the paper (almost all questions, literally). With a little clever approach, you can land a decent grade. Apart from this and the PPTs provided by faculty, no other references or books may be needed for this subject (in general).

If you have opted for operating systems as a part of computer science minor, TutorialsPoint is once again the place to learn.

Coming to this semester as a whole, you may not find enough time to truly learn all the subjects as mentioned before. You will have to trade one or two and focus on others. Have some teamwork, divide the concepts but conquer the subjects together.

Tips for acquiring internships

  1. Always remember not to underestimate yourself. Apply for all the opportunities that interest you with confidence irrespective of your profile or CGPA. The experience is important, more than the outcome.
  2. On campus, you will have several software and hardware companies along with a few management companies turning up to hire interns. There are three things you must give utmost importance to, your aptitude skills, communication skill, and your attitude to learn. Only after that comes your CGPA and resume, and I cannot stress enough on how much important your communication skills are. Even if you weren’t able to answer anything technical, if you can speak well and clearly explain yourself, you’ll probably get a chance.
  3. You may want to read these articles for more perspectives:

Off-Campus

On an average, as far as ECE dept is considered, about 20–30 students get internships via campus, and the rest will have to go off-campus or for the research internships.

  • Remember, opportunities are everywhere. Use your rejections as a chance to learn about and overcome your shortcomings.
  • LinkedIn, Internshala, and Angel.co are some places where you can try pursuing an internship.
  • Network with your alumni on LinkedIn, look for referrals and be proactive.
  • If you are interested in startups, make sure to set up your updated profile in Angel.co and you can also try applying for various incubated companies at various IITs and IIMs. (You will find those details on their incubation center sites)
  • Keep a track of hiring hackathons and contests on websites like Hackerrank, Hackerearth, Techgig, Codechef, etc.
  • Here is a compilation of global and national research internship programs for undergraduate students. There may be many more like this out there. Always keep on the lookout and use the internet wisely.

All the best for the coming semester and for your internship hunt! Do follow Probe’s publication on Medium for more insightful articles from the semester in a nutshell series.

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