Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Electrical and computer engineering at Fairfield University is an interdisciplinary program that enables its graduates to study several fields including (but not limited to) engineering, mathematics, science and business. The interdisciplinary nature of the program affords the students a chance to establish an educational identity that is unique. Students can learn from topics in subject areas that include computer hardware, power, VLSI, sensors, mixed signals, measurement, controls, biomedical, and nanotechnology.

An MSECE graduate student can focus on topics that can result in a leadership position in a high-technology industry. In a time when the ability to innovate is the only sustainable competitive advantage, an ECE degree unlocks the door to an entrepreneurial career. Our graduates work to design and build state-of-the-art products and are highly sought after by employers.

The MSECE program also allows elective courses offered by the School of Engineering master's degree programs in mechanical engineering, software engineering and management of technology. As a consequence, students gain technical skills and a sense of the economic and business values needed to employ technology to serve society's needs. Some of our students have selected to participate in business plan competitions and engage in engineering entrepreneurship. We have strong ties to the Inventors Association of Connecticut, the Technology Venture community and local industry.

Program Overview

The MSECE program provides students with the knowledge and skills to innovate and lead in their discipline in the framework of research and development in academic institutions, the industrial workplace, research laboratories, or service organizations. The basic objectives of the MSECE program include the following:

  1. Students receive the tools they need to take the lead in creating next generation technologies using fundamental design disciplines. Sequences of electives, as well as a master's thesis, provide depth in their learning experiences.
  2. Students gain exposure to the high-tech areas of electrical and computer engineering, including system and product engineering, hardware and software design, embedded systems, communications, control systems, computer architecture, and visualization and multimedia systems. Students have the opportunity to become skilled in creating unique object-oriented designs. State of the art facilities available in the School of Engineering, and close interactions with industry, assist in those tasks.
  3. The MSECE program provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree program that broadens their career path, ultimately leading to leadership roles.

Students

Electrical and computer engineering embodies the science and technology of design, implementation, and maintenance of software and hardware components of modern electrical, electronics, computing and network systems. This discipline has emerged from the traditional fields of electrical engineering and computer science. Hence, the student population for the program has several origins. Typical examples include the following:

  1. Engineers and scientists who, responding to the specific needs of their industry across the spectrum of electrical and computer engineering domains, need to acquire skills to effectively guide the development of technologies that will enhance product quality and business opportunities
  2. Engineers and scientists who wish to fulfill their needs for personal and professional growth and achieve entrepreneurship in the IT domains
  3. Engineers aspiring to a career change
  4. Undergraduate engineering students and alumni with B.S. degrees, who seek an opportunity to continue their studies for a graduate engineering degree at Fairfield University.

In addition to mathematics and science, MSECE graduates have a solid foundation in electronics, logic design, micro-devices, computer organization and architecture, and networking, as well as an understanding of software design, data structures, algorithms, and operating systems.

​Graduates

Graduates are employed in several industries, including the computer, aerospace, telecommunications, power, manufacturing, defense, and electronics industries. They can expect to design high-tech devices ranging from tiny microelectronic integrated-circuit chips to powerful systems that use those chips, and efficient interconnected telecommunication systems. Applications include consumer electronics; advanced microprocessors; peripheral equipment; systems for portable, desktop, and client/server computing; communications devices; distributed computing environments such as local and wide area networks, wireless networks, Internets, Intranets; embedded computer systems; and a wide array of complex technological systems such as power generation and distribution systems and modern computer-controlled processing and manufacturing plants.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum

Prerequisites and Foundation Competencies

Students that do not have sufficient background in a programming language (through a course equivalent to CS 0232 Data Structures) will be required to complete a bridge course, SW 0407 Java for Programmers, in addition to other program requirements. 

Students entering the program without an undergraduate degree in electrical or computer engineering may have to take additional bridge courses as prescribed during the admissions decision, in order to prepare for the advanced coursework required at the Master's level.

Program Requirements

Students in the MSECE program must complete 30 credits, with either a thesis or a capstone option. Several electives are available to students across several areas of specialization. Upon admission, students meet with an advisor to prepare a plan of study that will lead to a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering in the most time-effective manner while meeting the student's professional needs.  Student may include at most two other approved Engineering, Math, or Business graduate courses.

Required Courses
ECE 0411Digital Signal Processing3
ECE 0415Engineering Applications of Numerical Methods3
or SW 0409 Advanced Programming in Java
ECE 0457Advanced Linear Systems3
Capstone or Thesis Option
ECE 0591
ECE 0592
Capstone Professional Project I
and Capstone Professional Project II
6
or ECE 0550
ECE 0551
Thesis I
and Thesis II
Elective Courses
Select three elective courses from Electrical and Computer Engineering9
Select two additional electives courses from ECE or other approved Engineering, Math, or Business graduate courses 16
Total Credits30
1

Electives may be chosen from courses listed under Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as ECE 0483 Independent Study, or any other graduate-level engineering, math, or business course, under advisement of the department chair or academic advisor.

Capstone or Thesis Option

Students have two options for a two-semester long required course sequence:

  1. Capstone Option: The Capstone projects are team-driven. Students in the Capstone class are typically organized into teams that contribute to a significant electrical and computer systems project. These projects are chosen to advance the student's knowledge in topics related to the specialization areas. Students consult with their advisors and instructors to determine which projects will contribute most to their education. Students may also suggest projects if they are of sufficient complexity and will advance their knowledge in an area of interest. A capstone topic should be approved by the instructor and accepted by the director of the program prior to starting the capstone sequence.
  2. Thesis Option: Students may choose the thesis option at the agreement of a faculty member and approval by the program director.

In the event that a student in one option (Capstone or Thesis) wishes to switch to the other option, the course that was taken in one option will not count toward fulfilling the graduation requirement. Capstone or thesis classes can be taken only after the completion of 9 credits at the minimum.

ECE Elective Domains

Power and Energy
ECE 0461Green Power Generation3
ECE 0477Power Security and Reliability3
ECE 0495Power Generation and Distribution3
ECE 0496Fault Analysis in Power Systems3
ECE 0505Advanced Power Electronics3
Communications Systems
ECE 0479Communication Systems3
ECE 0480Wireless Systems I3
Electronic Systems
ECE 0405Electronic Materials3
ECE 0423Thermal Management of Microdevices3
ECE 0435Microelectronics3
ECE 0451Nanoelectronics I3
ECE 0455Sensor Design and Application3
ECE 0478Electromagnetic Compatibility3
ECE 0510LProduct Design Laboratory1
ECE 0520LSystem Design Lab1
Computer Engineering
ECE 0406Advanced Digital Design3
ECE 0440Computer Graphics3
ECE 0441Computer Systems Architecture3
ECE 0460Network Programming3
ECE 0470Network Embedded Systems3
Biomedical Engineering
ECE 0431Biomedical Signal Processing3
ECE 0432Biomedical Imaging3
ECE 0433Biomedical Visualization3

Plan of Study

Deviations from the required course list are permitted as a part of an advisor approved plan of study. Students must have an approved plan of study by the end of their first term. A plan of study may be changed at any time, with advisor approval.

ECE 0405 Electronic Materials3 Credits

This course describes the properties and applications of certain materials used in the design and manufacture of electronic assemblies. Ceramics are often used as insulators, heat sinks, and substrates for interconnection structures. The course presents electrical, mechanical, and thermal properties of various ceramics, along with methods of fabricating and machining ceramic structures. Adhesives used to mount components and to replace mechanical fasteners such as screws and rivets provide connections that are stronger and take up less space. The course examines properties of adhesives such as epoxies, silicones, and cyanoacrylates under conditions of high temperature storage and humidity, along with methods of applications. Solders used to interconnect electronic components and assemblies are selected for temperature compatibility, mechanical properties, and reliability. The course emphasizes the new lead-free solder materials and presents the properties of plastic materials and the methods of forming plastic structures.

ECE 0406 Advanced Digital Design3 Credits

This course examines computer architecture implemented using a hardware design language and programmable logic devices. Students learn the VHDL hardware description language, and learn to use modern design, simulation, and synthesis software. Students design, verify, build and test digital logic circuits using industry standard development boards, and field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

ECE 0411 Digital Signal Processing3 Credits

Modern signal processing tools including vector spaces, bases and frames, operators, signal expansions and approximation, as well as classical signal processing tools including Fourier and z transforms, filtering and sampling, estimation, applications, and implementation.

ECE 0415 Engineering Applications of Numerical Methods3 Credits

This course provides students with the theoretical basis to proceed in future studies. Topics include root-finding, interpolation, linear algebraic systems, numerical integration, numerical solution of ordinary and partial differential equations, modeling, simulation, initial boundary value problems, and two point boundary value problems.

ECE 0420 Readings in Electrical and Computer Engineering3 Credits

Students formulate a project proposal, perform literature surveys, and learn the finer points of technical writing and presentation at the graduate level. The course requires a meta-paper written about the literature in the field. It emphasizes the basics of technical writing and research, and is organized to emphasize methods of the writing and the research process. Students learn to state a problem, the techniques of analysis, methods of investigation, and functional organization.

ECE 0423 Thermal Management of Microdevices3 Credits

This course addresses the thermal design in electronic assemblies which includes thermal characteristics, heat transfer mechanisms and thermal failure modes. Thermal design of electronic devices enables engineers to prevent heat-related failures, increase the life expectancy of the system, and reduce emitted noise and energy consumption. This course provides the required knowledge of heat transfer for such analysis and various options available for thermal management of electronics. This course also presents advanced methods of removing heat from electronic circuits, including heat pipes, liquid immersion and forced convection. Formerly ECE 0425.

ECE 0431 Biomedical Signal Processing3 Credits

This course presents an overview of different methods used in biomedical signal processing. Signals with bioelectric origin are given special attention and their properties and clinical significance are reviewed. In many cases, the methods used for processing and analyzing biomedical signals are derived from a modeling perspective based on statistical signal descriptions. The purpose of the signal processing methods ranges from reduction of noise and artifacts to extraction of clinically significant features. The course gives each participant the opportunity to study the performance of a method on real, biomedical signals.

ECE 0432 Biomedical Imaging3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0431.

The course presents the fundamentals and applications of common medical imaging techniques, for example: x-ray imaging and computed tomography, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, and optical imaging. In addition, as a basis for biomedical imaging, introductory material on general image formation concepts and characteristics are presented, including human visual perception and psychophysics.

ECE 0433 Biomedical Visualization3 Credits

An introduction to 3D biomedical visualization. Various technologies are introduced, include UltraSound, MRI, CAT scans, PET scans, etc. Students will learn about spatial data structures, computational geometry and solid modeling with applications in 3D molecular and anatomical modeling.

ECE 0435 Microelectronics3 Credits

This course considers the methods of interconnecting electronic components at very high circuit densities and describes methods of designing and fabricating multilayer printed circuit boards, co-fired multilayer ceramic substrates, and multilayer thin film substrates in detail. It discusses the methods of depositing thick and thin film materials, along with their properties, and analyzes these structures and compares them for thermal management, high frequency capability, characteristic impedance, cross-coupling of signals, and cost. The course also includes techniques for mounting components to these boards, including wire bonding, flip chip, and tape automated bonding.

ECE 0440 Computer Graphics3 Credits

This course supports the visualization and computer systems domain with computer gaming applications. It is an introduction to GUI and game design and computer graphics concepts. Topics include human-computer interfaces using the AWT; applied geometry; homogeneous coordinate transforms.

ECE 0441 Computer Systems Architecture3 Credits

An investigation into computer architectures (past, present and future). We will explore various hardware and software techniques designed to maximize parallelism and improve performance. Front-end design (branch prediction, instruction fetch, trace caches), HW/SW techniques of parallelism, Memory system design (caching, prefetching), Technology issues (low power, scaling, reliability, nanotechnology), multiprocessors. Class will include a mix of lectures and discussions on assigned readings of recent publications. Students will be responsible for leading and participating in these discussions. A course project exploring a particular topic in depth will be required.

ECE 0448 Embedded Microcontrollers3 Credits

Introduction to embedded microcontrollers in electronic and electromechanical systems. Hardware and software design techniques are explored for user and system interfaces, data acquisition and control. These tools are used to develop software code for practical applications such as motor speed control and voltage regulation for power supplies.

ECE 0448L Embedded Microcontrollers Lab1 Credit

Fee: $80 Engineering Lab Fee

This laboratory covers the basic operation and applications of a microprocessor. Students learn to program a microprocessor to control applications such as motor speed by the use of an emulator connected to a PC. They design a circuit using a microprocessor for a specific application and write a program to control the circuit. On completion of the program, they use the emulator to program an actual microprocessor for use in their circuit.

ECE 0451 Nanoelectronics I3 Credits

Building on the two introductory courses in nanotechnology, this course is the first of two that describe how nanotechnology can be integrated into the electronics industry. The unique electrical, mechanical, and optical properties of structures in the nanometer range and how they may be applied to electronics products are discussed. Principles of electronic materials, semiconductor devices, and microfabrication techniques will be extended to the nanoscale. Students will increase their knowledge of electronic structure, quantum mechanics, and the behavior of optoelectronic and low-dimensional systems. Students make extensive use of the available literature to seek out potential applications of nanotechnology.

ECE 0455 Sensor Design and Application3 Credits

This course covers the design, fabrication, and properties of sensors intended to measure a variety of parameters, such as stress, temperature, differential pressure, and acceleration. Sensors of different types are used in a wide range of equipment, especially automated equipment, to detect changes in state and to provide the signals necessary to control various functions. Sensors are generally connected to electronics systems that process and distribute the signals. The support electronics must identify the signal, separate it from noise and other interference, and direct it to the appropriate point. These support electronics are a critical part of the sensor technology; students discuss their design and packaging in detail.

ECE 0457 Advanced Linear Systems3 Credits

Modeling and analysis of linear systems. Introduction to linear algebra with emphasis on matrices, linear transformations on a vector space, and matrix formulation of linear differential and difference equations. State variable analysis of advanced linear systems. Transform methods using complex variable theory, and time-domain methods including numerical algorithms.

ECE 0460 Network Programming3 Credits

This course covers principles of networking and network programming. Topics include OSI layers, elementary queuing theory, protocol analysis, multi-threading, command-line interpreters, and monitors. Students write a distributed computing system and check their performance predictions with experiments.

ECE 0461 Green Power Generation3 Credits

This course compares various methods of green power generation including solar power, wind power, water power, and several others. This course covers how power is generated from these sources, the startup costs, the efficiency, and the practicality. These methods are compared to the present most common method of using oil and gas to heat water into steam to turn turbines. The student does not necessarily need a background in engineering and any necessary background material will be covered to the understanding of all.

ECE 0470 Network Embedded Systems3 Credits

This course covers distributed development - connecting peripherals to networks via Java. Plug-and-play paradigm is used to add services on the fly. Students learn about the following topics: multicast and unicast protocols, service leasing, lookup services, remote events, sharing data between distributed processes, and distributed transactions. The course also covers interfacing hardware (sensors, robotics, etc.) to the Web.

ECE 0477 Power Security and Reliability3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0495.

This course focuses on Power System Protection and Relaying to allow the design of robust and reliable power systems. After reviewing the need for protection of power system elements (motors, generators, transformers, and transmission/distribution lines), the course: Explores developments in the creation of smarter, more flexible protective systems based on advances in the computational power of digital devices and the capabilities of communication systems that can be applied within the power grid, Examines the regulations related to power system protection and how they impact the way protective relaying systems are designed, applied, set, and monitored, Considers the evaluation of protective systems during system disturbances and describes the tools available for analysis, Addresses the benefits and problems associated with applying microprocessor-based devices in protection schemes' Contains an expanded discussion of internal protection requirements at dispersed generation facilities. MatLab is used to solve homework problems and do team design projects.

ECE 0478 Electromagnetic Compatibility3 Credits

This course presents design techniques to minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI) from or to it. The various sources of Radio-frequency emissions from electronic systems, coupling paths for the transfer of undesired electromagnetic energy will be introduced. Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements for electronic products will be presented along with techniques to measure EMI. High speed digital signal transmission integrity related issues and methods to overcome signal integrity will be introduced. Techniques to minimize conducted and radiated Emissions through filtering and grounding will be presented. System design for EMC will be presented.

ECE 0479 Communication Systems3 Credits

This course focuses on analog and digital communication systems and the effects of noise on those systems. It includes analog modulation and demodulation techniques (amplitude, frequency, and phase modulation) and digital modulation and demodulation techniques (ASK, FSK, PSK, PCM, and delta modulation). It discusses performance analysis of analog and digital communication systems under noise with applications of probability theory to the analysis. It discusses information measure, source coding, error correcting codes and Spread spectrum systems.

ECE 0480 Wireless Systems I3 Credits

The applications of wireless communication are expanding rapidly - from cellular phones to wireless internet to household appliances - and involve many disciplines other than microwave transmission. This course covers several aspects of wireless communication, including antenna design, FCC regulations, and multi-channel transmission protocols. In addition, it discusses modern design approaches such as Bluetooth. Students learn how analog and digital signals are coded. The course also discusses transmission during interference and EMI/RFI as well as fiber optics communication.

ECE 0483 Independent Study3 Credits

Students pursue special topics, projects, and/or readings in selected areas. Students must meet with the instructor to discuss the proposed topic of study.

ECE 0495 Power Generation and Distribution3 Credits

This course considers the generation and distribution of electrical power to large areas. Three-phase networks are described in detail, including both generators and loads. Methods of modeling distribution systems by per-unit parameters are covered, along with power factor correction methods. Fault detection and lightning protection methods are also described. Some economic aspects of power generation and distribution are presented.

ECE 0496 Fault Analysis in Power Systems3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0495.

This course covers three types of faults in electrical power grids: open lines, lines shorted to ground, and lines shorted to each other. Methods of locating faults are covered, along with an analysis of the effects. Methods of protection and fault isolation are also covered.

ECE 0505 Advanced Power Electronics3 Credits

This course considers the design and application of electronic circuits related to power generation and conversion including inverters, power supplies, and motor controls. Topics include AC-DC, DC-DC, DC-AC, AC-AC converters, resonant converters, and the designof magnetic components. Models of electric motors and generators are presented to facilitate the design of controls for these structures.

ECE 0508 Engineering Entrepreneurship3 Credits

Designed specifically for engineers and scientists having a passion for technological innovation, this popular interdisciplinary course focuses on the roles of inventors and founders in successful high-tech ventures. By providing knowledge and skills important to the creation and leadership of such startups, the course aims to train the founders and leaders of tomorrow's high-tech companies. This course makes use of case-studies and active learning to engage the students in venture creation. Guest lectures enable industry experts to share their insights for venture formation.

ECE 0510L Product Design Laboratory1 Credit

Fee: $80 Engineering Lab Fee

Prerequisite: ECE 0405.

This laboratory course provides hands-on experience in measuring and analyzing the electrical and mechanical properties of materials used in the design of electronic products. It also covers thermal analysis and methods of removing the heat from electronic circuits. Experiential learning includes measurement of temperature coefficient of expansion, measurement of thermal resistance, measurement of tensile strength, measurement of material hardness, temperature measurement of electronic components, Peltier effect (thermoelectric coolers), heat pipes, convection cooling (fins and air flow), and heat flow across a bonding interface such as solder or epoxy.

ECE 0520L System Design Lab1 Credit

Fee: $80 Engineering Lab Fee

Corequisite: ECE 0455.

This laboratory provides students with an understanding of sensors and non-linear control systems. Experiments include temperature sensors such as thermocouples, thermistors, and infrared, motion sensors, strain gauges, nonlinear servos, and computer analysis of nonlinear systems.

ECE 0530L Power Elecronics Lab1 Credit

Fee: $80 Engineering Lab Fee

This laboratory provides hands-on experience in analyzing and designing power electronics circuits and in analyzing and modeling power generation and distribution systems. Students design and construct voltage regulators, switching power supplies, and motor controllers. Students also develop circuit models for AC and DC motors and power transformers. Experiential learning includes developing circuit models for power distribution systems, measuring parameters of motors and transformers and using the data to develop electrical circuit models of these devices, and analyzing the properties of power distribution systems and developing computer models for them. One credit.

ECE 0550 Thesis I3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0420.

The master's thesis tests students' abilities to formulate a problem, solve it, and communicate the results. The thesis is supervised on an individual basis. A thesis involves the ability to gather information, examine it critically, think creatively, organize effectively, and write convincingly; it is a project that permits students to demonstrate skills that are basic to academic and industry work. The student must also submit a paper for possible inclusion in a refereed journal appropriate to the topic.

ECE 0551 Thesis II3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0550.

The master's thesis tests students' abilities to formulate a problem, solve it, and communicate the results. The thesis is supervised on an individual basis. A thesis involves the ability to gather information, examine it critically, think creatively, organize effectively, and write convincingly; it is a project that permits students to demonstrate skills that are basic to academic and industry work. The student must also submit a paper for possible inclusion in a refereed journal appropriate to the topic.

ECE 0552 Thesis III3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0551.

The master's thesis tests students' abilities to formulate a problem, solve it, and communicate the results. The thesis is supervised on an individual basis. A thesis involves the ability to gather information, examine it critically, think creatively, organize effectively, and write convincingly; it is a project that permits students to demonstrate skills that are basic to academic and industry work. The student must also submit a paper for possible inclusion in a refereed journal appropriate to the topic.

ECE 0591 Capstone Professional Project I3 Credits

Prerequisites: Completion of 9 credits in the MS ECE program.

In these two semester capstone courses, students form teams, perform a technical study, and design, develop, and test electrical and computer systems based on their customer's requirements. The results of these projects provide a library of case studies, designs, development techniques, and project management skills that are of interest to local industry professionals. A capstone prospectus must be developed at the beginning of the capstone sequence.

ECE 0592 Capstone Professional Project II3 Credits

Prerequisite: ECE 0591.

In these two semester capstone courses, students form teams, perform a technical study, and design, develop, and test electrical and computer systems based on their customer's requirements. The results of these projects provide a library of case studies, designs, development techniques, and project management skills that are of interest to local industry professionals. A capstone prospectus must be developed at the beginning of the capstone sequence.