## My undergraduate internship at EPFL

In this blogpost I write about my summer internship at EPFL, Switzerland in the summers of 2017.

This is my first blogpost and it is intended for prospective and current undergraduate students of the Electrical Engineering (EE) department at IIT Bombay.

In the following article, I have tried to give you an overall picture of the curriculum of the B.Tech program of the Electrical Engineering (EE) department at IIT Bombay. The article is organized year wise, and I have also shared my academic experience over each of the four years I spent at IIT Bombay.

First year

Curriculum:- During the first year, all the students are supposed to complete the same set of courses irrespective of their department. Some departments, however, need their students to complete the ‘Department Introductory Courses’ additionally. EE department requires its students to complete two DICs, one in each semester. In the Autumn semester you will do EE 111 - Introduction to Electrical Systems, and in the Spring semester, you will do EE 112 - Introduction to Electronics. EE 111 gives you a flavor of Network Theorems, time domain and frequency domain analysis of circuits, transformers, and electric machines. EE 112 is meant to provide you with an overview of Semiconductor Devices, Transistors (BJT and MOSFET), Amplifiers (OP-AMP) and basic logic gates. Apart from these two theoretical courses, there is no significant direct interaction with the department.

My Experience:- I did not enjoy EE 111 as much as the other courses in the first semester. This was partly because this class was designed in such a way to give you an overview of a broad field, and therefore most of the concepts are not covered in depth. However, there were certain phases during the course that I enjoyed as the content was exciting. EE 112 was much better for me as the concepts were discussed thoroughly but again not as interesting as some other math and physics courses. After the end of the first year, I got a feeling that perhaps I made a wrong choice by choosing Electrical Engineering. But with the experience of just two courses, it was too early to draw any conclusions.

Second year

Curriculum:- The second year is when you really start getting a flavor of what the department has to offer, and it also marks the beginning of the department lab courses. Also, from the second year, you get the freedom to choose additional courses of your own choice along with the core courses.

In the third semester, you will do a course on Electronic Devices (EE 207) with a supporting lab (EE 236). This course is an extension of the DIC – EE 112 – Introduction to Electronics. This course will help you develop an in-depth understanding of the physics behind electronic devices. Moreover, the lab conducts practical experiments on simple PN junction diodes, Zener diodes, LEDs, solar cells, MOSFETs. As a result, the course becomes even more interesting. The course of Network theory (EE 225) focuses on the analysis of electrical networks wherein you also get a flavor of graph theory. You get an introduction to probability theory and statistics from the course of Data Analysis and Interpretation (EE 223). You are also supposed to do an introductory course in Economics and a couple of math courses that are essential tools for some fields in Electrical Engineering.

In the fourth semester, you will be exposed to narrowed down courses in Analog circuits (EE 204), Digital systems (EE 224) and Electric Machines and Power Electronics (EE 222) each of which is supported by a lab. The Analog circuits course focuses on designing and understanding various Analog circuits using OP-AMPs. The lab (EE 230) gives you hands-on experience working with OP-AMPs and BJTs in different circuits. The Digital systems course aims at teaching you how to a design simple digital system using logic gates and analyze its performance. You also learn about combinational circuits and sequential circuits. The lab (EE 214) goes in hand with the course and helps you design a digital system using basic coding in VHDL. Electric machines and Power Electronics is an extension of the DIC – EE 111 – Introduction to Electrical Systems and as the name suggests gives good insight into Electric Machines, Power Electronics, and Power Systems. The lab (EE 234) aids in the understanding of the material covered in the class through experiments and demonstrations. The course on Signals and Systems (EE 210) is an introductory course to the field of Signal Processing wherein you will learn about continuous time signals, filters, and sampling.

My Experience:- As you can see, by the end of the second year, you will have a decent amount of exposure to the department. You will know the broad fields of research/development in Electrical Engineering.

Amongst the core courses, I enjoyed the course on Devices the most in the third semester and the course on Electric Machines and Power Electronics the most in the fourth semester. You can see that these two courses are the extensions of the DICs :P. Also overall, the fourth semester seemed very relaxed as it was easy to follow the courses.

I took the courses on Physics of Nanoelectronic Devices I in my third semester and Physics of Nanoelectronic Devices II in my fourth semester as Honors courses. I also took up a project with a faculty in EE department on Quantum Thermodynamics. I also did a minor course in CSE in each of these semesters.

During the summer break after the second year, I continued working on my project on Quantum Thermodynamics. I also started working on a Low-Cost FPGA Development project under another faculty in the Wadhwani Electronics Lab. I enjoyed working on these two projects during the summers. Thus, you can see the freedom and the opportunities that the department provides to pursue your interest.

Third year

Curriculum:- The third year is supposed to be the toughest year academically for a student of EE department at IITB.

In the fifth semester, you will study a course on EM Waves (EE 301) which provides you with a basic understanding of transmission lines, electromagnetic waves, Maxwell’s equations, waveguides, and antennas. You will also do a course on Communication Systems (EE 308) which is an introductory course of communication area wherein you will study modulation and demodulation of analog and digital signals. The course is also supported by a lab (EE 340) which helps you gain a better understanding of some of the concepts taught in the class by simulating different communication systems on the GNU Radio software. The course on Probability and Random Processes (EE 325), as the name suggests, covers probability theory, random variables, random processes and is integral to the fields of signal processing and communications. The Microprocessors course (EE 309) discusses some basic microcontroller (8051) and microprocessor (8085) designs. You will also learn about Instruction Set Architecture. The supporting lab (EE 337) teaches you basic microprocessor programming using assembly and embedded C programming. Along with these courses, you are also supposed to choose one of the following four introductory courses from Humanities and Social Sciences department:- Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy and Language Study.

In the sixth semester, you do a course on Control Systems (EE 302) which focuses on time domain and frequency domain analysis and stability analysis of control systems. The control systems lab runs (EE 324) parallel to the course helping you in a better understanding of the concepts. The course on Power Systems (EE 334) looks into modeling, performance, and constraints of different power system components. The course on Digital Communications (EE 328) teaches you foundations of Statistical Decision Theory and techniques of data transfer over a point-to-point channel. You will learn about Discrete-time signals and systems and Digital Filters in a course on Digital Signal Processing (EE 338). The Electronics Design Lab (EE 340) is aimed for the students to work on a group project involving electronic hardware and software and to apply all the concepts learned in different courses to build an actual working prototype.

My Experience:- The courses in the third year are rigorous and spread over all the fields including Signal Processing, Control Systems, Power Electronics, Communication, and Microelectronics. These courses help you learn a lot about these fields, and you would get an idea which fields interest you more than the others. I enjoyed all the courses in both the semesters with EM Waves and Control Systems being my favorite classes in each of the semesters.

I decided to not take any additional course in the fifth semester, apart from the minor course, because of the hype created amongst the department that the fifth semester is tough to manage. Though this semester was more hectic compared to the previous four semesters, retrospectively I believe I could have managed an extra course this semester too.

In the winter vacation, I continued working on my project on Quantum Transport, and I decided to tag it as SRE in my sixth semester to get credit for my work. By now, it seemed certain to me that I would pursue higher studies in this field. But this would change dramatically as I started working on Information theory with a professor in the department. I also started working on Information theory with a professor in the department. Thus, you can see the diversity that the department offers. You will find excellent faculties to do research with, in all the areas of EE here at IIT Bombay.

In my sixth semester, I decided to not take up the minor course to take up two additional courses in the department, one on Quantum Transport and one in Information theory. The goal was to find out which field interests me more than the other. I took up the courses on Quantum Transport and Information Theory and Coding. The literature survey for both of my ongoing projects, helped me ace these course. You will also spend a lot of time looking for internships in your third year.

Fourth year

Curriculum:- The fourth year is very chill academically. You usually take up courses of your interest and the number of courses are also fewer than the previous year. You are also engaged in individual project work which can be fun. One downside is that the courses that interest you may not interest your friends. Therefore you may not have some of your friends with you in every class you take :P

In the seventh semester, you will have to do a couple of half-semester courses on Environment Studies. You then have the option to choose any two courses from EE dept and one course outside the EE dept as your department elective and institute elective courses respectively. You will also have to do the B.Tech Project I which is perhaps the best way to explore in-depth the field that you are interested in.

In the last semester, you will again have to take one course outside the EE dept as your institute elective and two courses either from the department or outside the department as your open electives. Along with these, you are supposed to complete either two courses from the department as department electives or the B.Tech Project II.

My Experience:-

For those interested in placements, most of their time in the seventh semester would be spent preparing for it. For those pursuing higher studies most of the time in the seventh semester would be spent preparing for the GRE and TOEFL tests and also working on your applications.

I would encourage students to be pro-active while working on their BTP projects and make the most out of it. I attended lots of talks of my interest in the department in my last year. The department invites many professors - who are amongst the best in their field - from across the world, to give research talks. I also completed my minors and honors in my last year.

The EE department at IIT Bombay also organizes the Bombay Information Theory Seminar biyearly. The department also organized the workshop on ‘Stochastic Optimization in Networks’ in my eighth semester. I also attended a seminar of 7 lectures on ‘universal schemes in data processing’ in my seventh semester and a seminar of 6 lectures on ‘Statistical Learning’ in my eighth semester organized by the department. These talks, workshops, and seminars were of immense help to me in my applications for higher studies.

In conclusion:-

The Electrical Department at IIT Bombay has some excellent research labs and faculties. The best way for a student to explore their interests is by doing a B.Tech Project/Supervised Research Exposition/Research and Development project/Summer projects/Winter projects with a professor whose work interests them. Along with these, course projects might also help students to understand the technical details of a field. A lot of students also work under clubs like Electronics and Robotics Club, which are quite active, and work on exciting projects every year. There is also a reading group in the department where the graduate students share their research activities. Also, department and institute electives along with Honors, Minors and ALCs are a great way to expand your interests beyond the core curriculum. You can also attend lots of talks, workshops and seminars which are regularly arranged by the department.

In this blogpost I write about my summer internship at EPFL, Switzerland in the summers of 2017.

This is my first blogpost and it is intended for prospective and current undergraduate students of the Electrical Engineering (EE) department at IIT Bombay.