In this curriculum, students focus on the hardware at the base of modern electronic systems (from PCs to smartphones, from CATs and PETs used in hospitals to the electronics used in automotive systems), electromagnetic fields, electronic measurement systems, and electronic signal and image processing.
Electronics: analog and digital hardware, firmware and software
Electronics is nowadays the core of almost all the objects we use every day: it is now difficult to find a device which does not have an electronic system inside. This is rather obvious for e.g. PCs or mobile phones, maybe less obvious in other cases. In a car, for example, electronic systems, which until some decades ago where limited perhaps only to ignition, now take care of almost any onboard system: from engine control to diagnostics, from light management (incandescent lights being progressively replaced by LEDs) to safety (airbags and ABS), to navigation and infotainment (DVD players, phone and internet connections...).
The importance of electronics appears in any case in which "intelligence" is needed to improve the performances of a device, to reduce its energy consumption or its costs. Another example can be found in controlling the behavior of complex mechanical systems, such as airplanes or helicopters: up to one half of the value of such aircrafts is given by their electronics: management of on-board systems, command, communication and control system (CCC) are crucial.
Electronic systems normally consist of some hardware (sometimes both analog and digital), firmware (the low-level software which controls the hardware), and software (the high-level code, including the interface with the user). In the curriculum "electronics" of both the Laurea Triennale (BSc) and the Laurea Magistrale (MSc) the main issues related to the above mentioned aspects are thoroughly studied.
The operation of electronic systems is based, from a physical point of view, on voltages and currents, i.e. on the electromagnetic fields which support them. It is very important to have a deep knowledge on the behaviour of electromagnetic fields, both in vacuum (e.g. for radio transmission) and during their interaction with matter. These are the subjects of some courses of both the Laurea Triennale (BSc) and the Laurea Magistrale (MSc), some of them also appearing in the curriculum "telecommunication".
To measure means to translate information into useful knowledge about the world around us. Lord Kelvin (the creator of the temperature scale with brings the same name) said "To measure is to know." The courses in Electronic Measurements and Electronic Instrumentation, also thanks to the laboratory activities organized c/o the APL Research Labs, provide the cultural, technical and technological bases to measure any physical quantity and to design any kind of electronic instrumentation.
Electronic signal and image processing
Examples of signal and image processing are easily found in everyday life: MP3 audio coding, JPEG image coding, MPEG4 video coding... Other applications are less common but still very interesting. For example, Amped, a company founded by a former student of our university, develops and sells worldwide a software for forensic image processing (e.g., to refocus a motion blurred image of a car used in a robbery).
Two exams are available in the Laurea Magistrale (MSc) within this subject; the final project for the master thesis can then be developed at IPL, the Image Processing Laboratory.
Advanced electronic instrumentation
The module "Laboratory of electronics and advanced instrumentation for research" is offered in cooperation with the Instrumentation and Detectors Laboratory of Elettra. Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste is a multidisciplinary international laboratory of excellence, specialized in generating high quality synchrotron and free-electron laser light and applying it in materials science.
Students can then prepare their Master thesis in this laboratory, where they have the opportunity of partecipating in important national and international research projects, using sophisticated electronic instrumentation and developing state-of-the-art electronic data acquisition systems.