University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Pre-College Summer Programs - Student Portfolios

Week 1: Electrical and Biomedical Engineering


This week, we learned about bioengineering and electrical engineering.

Bioengineering combines (and solves and defines problems within) engineering with biology and medicine. It enhances health care. Bioengineers may design medical equipment or instruments, develop new procedures, and/or research. Some of the most well-known advances are the development of artificial joints, pacemakers, MRIs, and heart-long machines. The rate of availability of jobs has a very large growth rate.

Electrical engineering is involved in many everyday objects. Electrical engineers are a part in every step of electronics: researching, designing, developing, testing, and overseeing. Some of the equipment they are involved in are GPSes, electric motors, aircraft, power generating, and transmission devices used by electric utilities. Many are also involved with computers. Electrical engineering plays a very important role in so many aspects of everyone's lives; therefore, jobs are highly demanded and very available in nearly every industry.

Day 1: Series and Capacitors

After being introduced to the types of engineering and basic mathematical and engineering laws (for example: Ohm's law), we moved on to our first hands-on practice.

We had two projects. One involved a series circuit; the other, a parallel circuit. A series circuit is what it's called when two or more objects are connected to each other between the positive and negative of the power source. A parallel circuit is what it's called when two or more objects are connected to the same two points of a power source.

First, we created a series circuit, which ended up looking like this: 

When both buttons were pushed, both lights would turn on.

Then, we created a parallel circuit, which ended up looking like this:

When either switch was switched, the light would turn on.

 Day 2: Binary System, Gates, Boolean Algebra, [and more once I get to that in the description]

At the beginning of the class, we learned what binary is. We learned how to translate binary to digital and vise versa. Using this as a foundation, we learned about AND gates, OR gates, NOT gates, and some combinations (NAND and NOR). Using that information, we began to learn what logic circuits were. We drew out circuits based on truth tables. We also learned Boolean algebra, and used that to help with logic circuits. To summarize all of that in one picture, here:

Later, in the lab rooms, we put our new knowledge to use.

We began with a college readiness circuit. This is what we did, from start to finish:

  1. We filled in a truth table. 
  2. We wrote out the formulas using Boolean algebra. 
  3. We drew out a circuit. 
  4. We placed gates and an LED and connected wires on a breadboard.

The final product: 

After that, we moved onto the designing of a circuit for a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The steps of what we did:

  1. We filled in a truth table. 
  2. We wrote out the formulas using Boolean algebra. 
  3. We drew out individual diagrams for all of the possibilities that will add up to either red, yellow, or green. (Red = P1 wins, Yellow = Tie, Green = P2 wins)

We didn't have sufficient time to create the circuit itself, so we moved on to the next assignment, a vending machine circuit. We followed the same structure of steps:

  1. We filled in a truth table. 
  2. We wrote out the formulas using Boolean algebra.

At that point, we could choose to either continue working on the vending machine or move on to the big project, a medicine delivery system. Our group decided to move onto the big project. We began designing, but the major procedures began on Day 3.


 Day 3: Designing and Building the Medicine Delivery System

 Once we began, our process was similar to previous practices.

  1. We began with filling out a truth table for all of the possible outcomes (no risk factors present = green LED; 1 risk factor present = yellow LED; 2 risk factors present = red LED; all risk factors present = alarm).
  2. We wrote out Boolean logic formulas for each of the outcomes, and used those to draw out circuit designs.
     - Alarm circuit
     - Green light circuit
     - Red light circuit
     - Yellow light circuit
  3. We created a simulation on Scratch. That can be found and played with here.
  4. We began implementing the circuits onto real breadboards. We began with circuit for the green light, then the red light, and finally, the yellow light. Here are some pictures of that:
 Day 4: Continued Buildling and Testing of the Medicine Delivery System

On Thursday, we mainly worked on the alarm, clock, and flipflop. Here are more pictures of the project in development:

Day 5: ___

We tried to correctly do the flip-flop and prepared everything for the presentation. The final video of the working project can be found in the Prezi at the bottom of this page.

Curation of Stories from Storify
  • This story provided a good amount of information on the topic of electrical engineering, as well as how to go about becoming an electrical engineer.
  • This story wrote about an advancement in electrical engineering — a self-balancing Standing two wheeled electric scooter known as the Airwheel S5. It has many features that go above and beyond other similar products on the market.
  • In this story, at the University of Sydney, bioengineers worked with a neurosurgeon to develop "a new, low-cost method for producing bone replacement implants for severely damaged skulls." 
  • In this story, an MIT student recognized issues with today's usual prosthetics, and worked to engineer even better ones. He has had success among his consumers of the prosthetics. His background motivates him to do the work that he does.
Links to Resources