Clock frequencies and data rates are increasing, driven by the high growth rate of internet traffic and computer processing power. For most electronic products, signal-integrity effects begin to be important at clock frequencies above about 100 MHz or rise times shorter than about 1 nsec. Interconnects — like circuit boards, cables and connectors — are not transparent. If you don’t design them correctly, signal integrity (SI), power integrity (PI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) problems can ruin any product.

The Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering is expanding its professional course offerings to include a new track in High-Speed Digital Engineering as part of our Professional Master of Science (MS) degree for students with bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering. 

Professors from CU Boulder’s faculty, local national labs and local industry will offer five core courses and numerous electives for a 10-course, 30-credit hour program to prepare students with the specialized knowledge required to be a successful high-speed design team member and be able to quickly and efficiently solve signal integrity, power integrity and EMC problems. This means having a firm grasp of the fundamental principles, hands on familiarity with the design tools, simulation tools, and measurement tools. The core curriculum will emphasize mastery of the industry established best design practices, best measurement practices and best analysis practices.

At this time, all courses are taught in person on the Boulder campus.

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The field of HSDE includes the topics of signal integrity, power integrity and electromagnetic compatibility. When digital signal bandwidths exceed even 100 MHz, the electrical properties of the interconnects can play a dominate role affecting system performance. Interconnect design, from the IC packages, the printed circuit boards, the connectors and cables can affect signals, power distribution and the ability for a product to pass an EMC certification test.

At their core, these problems arise due to the interactions of the electromagnetic fields of the signals and the conductor and dielectric properties of the interconnects. These are topics that are not generally mastered by engineering students in traditional electrical engineering graduate programs at universities. Students interested in electromagnetics tend toward an RF curriculum, while students interested in circuit design tend toward an embedded systems program.

All electronics systems are moving toward high-speed systems, where HSDE skills are required on design teams. Engineers skilled in HSDE make significant positive impacts on product design working at large companies such as AMD, Cisco, Seagate, Texas Instruments, Intel and Apple. However, any company working with high-speed systems needs workers with an understanding of analog signal integrity, and workers with practical PCB experience are even more in demand.

This program focuses on best design, measurement and characterization practices to eliminate signal integrity problems in high-speed products. Topics include transmission lines, cross talk, ground bounce, reflections, high speed serial links, S-parameters and much more. The program starts with “applied Maxwell’s Equations” for understanding the applied electromagnetics and then fixing SI, PI and EMC problems with proper design for HSDD applications.

Our HSDE Program is designed to prepare students for industry careers with signal and power integrity analysis emphases. Students with a background in electrical engineering fundamentals will be well-prepared for this program. This program offers an opportunity for electrical engineers to obtain the specialized knowledge required to debug HSDE problems and provide practical solutions. It is intended for students and engineers with a BSEE degree in electrical engineering or equivalent, including a background in basic electromagnetics. Students with another relevant engineering or scientific background may still be admitted to the program with a personalized study program to address foundational knowledge gaps.

Applications for fall 2024 will open in summer 2023 (usually mid- to late-July). To apply: 

  1. Use the CU Boulder Graduate Application
  2. Select the Professional Master's in Electrical Engineering, then select "High-Speed Digital Engineering" in the drop-down menu.