ASIC Design (Electronics, Technical University)

Author(s): Vassiliy Tchoumatchenko, Tania Vasileva

Affiliation(s): Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria

Date of publication: December 14, 2015

The Educational Problem

The educational challenge was to increase motivation of students to learn, to enhance their professional and digital competences and to meet the requirements of business to future employees for:

  • Abilities to resolve complex problems;
  • Better practical training (experience in using professional software and CAD tools);
  • Working on multidisciplinary tasks, utilizing multiple knowledge sources;
  • Abilities to work in group;
  • Abilities to use rich computer technologies and environments.
  • Networking;

The problem was how to restructure the ASIC Design course in order to:

  • Increase students motivation providing them with practically oriented projects;
  • Increase students’ knowledge and competencies,
  • Increase students’ abilities to work collaboratively with individual responsibility to the quality of common product.

The Solution

To resolve the above mentioned problems, we redesign the course using trialogical design principles and modern digital technology. The course was restructured from traditional face-to-face to project oriente, adopting and applying modern online learning platforms, cloud collaboration tools and social software. Overall, the trialogical approach is well accepted and considered as an appropriate path for transforming students’ individual course work into more collaborative activities. Instead of giving students many separate tasks we provide them with a large three month long project, continuous working process, shared research plan and final presentation in groups. All group activities are organized around shared objects – collaborative development of a common project, and preparation of a shared report.

Key Experiences

Working in small teams, the students are required to design a digital Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). The design workflow is based on HDL (Hardware Design Language) modelling, verification and synthesis. The main design artefacts (VHDL models and test-benches) are text files; therefore we are able to borrow many tools and workflows from the software development community. Projects are hosted on GitHub – one repository per project. In parallel with the code development, the teams are required to create and maintain a Google Docs document which is one of the major deliverables. Initially the document contains the technical specifications of the design. Later on, the students have to add description of the implemented algorithms and architectures, argumentation of the tradeoffs made and the results from the simulation, synthesis and physical design.

Most of development takes place outside the regular classes. For their intra-team communication, the students are free to choose whatever tools they prefer (chat, conferencing, email). For student - teacher communications we decided to use the Google tools. Students were encouraged to submit their questions as emails instead of chat messages.

Materials and Links

A presentation about the ASIC design pedagogical case.

Students are provided all materials for lctures, guidance for exercises, instructions for handling simulation tools, project template, tutorials, supporting materials and libraries. Presentation material (in Bulgarian):

Links to full original document: