ECE Graduate Students Awarded Trip to AMD Austin

 Sherif Morcos & James Esper Won Best Course Project

April 10, 2007

ECE graduate students James Esper and Sherif Morcos won first place and a trip to Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) in Austin, Texas, for their final project in Digital Systems Testing and Testable Design last fall. AMD, a company that provides microprocessor and graphics solutions, sponsors the annual contest.

"We had a chance to meet a lot of engineers who described what they do, what it's like working for AMD, and how they apply what is learned in school to their daily activities," said Morcos. "At the end of tour, they showed us the testing floor where the chips are screened for defects."

Becoming "test engineers for a day," Esper and Morcos were able to experience, first-hand, industrial applications of the coursework from Digital Systems Testing and Testable Design. ECE Professor Shawn Blanton taught the graduate-level course, in which students examine the theory and practice of fault analysis, test generation, and design for testability for digital integrated circuits (ICs) and systems. The semester includes five mini projects.

Students integrate everything they have learned for the final assignment, modifying a standard benchmark digital circuit to make it "testable." One of the task's requirements is to use a method for testing interconnects on circuit boards called a boundary-scan chain. Esper and Morcos also developed a dedicated internal scan chain, and made their product less expensive by removing unnecessary circuitry.

Each team presented their design and described their methods and results for their classmates and the judges: Ari Shtulman, a design for testability engineer with AMD; Blanton; and teaching assistant Osei Poku, an ECE Ph.D. candidate. Shtulman met with the students in Austin and they were later joined by ECE alumnus Spence Oliver (M.S. 2000), an implementation engineer with AMD. Every year, Oliver judges the project competition for another ECE course sponsored by AMD, Integrated Circuit Design Project.

To round out their site visit, AMD treated the pupils to a taste of Texas-style barbecue, an evening of Austin's famous nightlife and live music, and a tour of the city. Winners of the contest may be offered positions at AMD.

Graduate students James Esper and Sherif Morcos won first place and a trip to AMD for their final project in Digital Systems Testing and Testable Design, taught by ECE Professor Shawn Blanton last fall.

Related People:

Ronald Blanton

Related Links:

Digital Systems Testing and Testable Design (18-765)

Integrated Circuit Design Project (18-525)