Introduction

The device you are currently viewing this website on, the server you are downloading data from, the cables that are transporting these little packets over miles, these are all possible because of years of cumulative electrical engineering genius. Electrical Engineering is a very diverse branch where you can choose to work on nanoscale devices or build and optimise giant GPU server farms or increase the efficiency of mobile communication. Not only is Electrical Engineering one of the oldest departments at IIT Bombay but it can now boast of being one of the largest in the institute too.

What is Electrical Engineering all about?

IIT Bombay has a department of Electrical Engineering which encompasses microelectronics, communications, power systems and power electronics, control and signal processing. This does away with having separate departments like Electronics and Communication which is common in Indian universities.

The never-ending demand for faster and efficient processors has been driving innovation in the field of microelectronics. Companies like Intel, NVIDIA and AMD bring out new and better processors and GPUs year after year. The main focus of this field is to design better semiconductor devices (e.g. transistors), which serve as the building blocks, and arranging them to design a processor.

Year after year, the technology in communications have evolved like 3G, 4G etc. Wireless technologies have improved, increasing internet traffic has been dealt with, data transmission rates have increased. These are some of the things done in the field of Communications.

In just the last few years, we have witnessed Facebook automatically recognizing faces, Google using voice searches, smart cameras coming up, improved CT scans, fingerprint matching technologies etc. All these technological advancements have been made possible by contribution from signal processing engineers. Signal processing focusses on smart acquisition of data, quantifying the amount of information in the signal, reducing noise and analyzing data. Some applications include face recognition, speech recognition, biometric security like fingerprint matching. This field has some overlap with the Computer Science Department.

B.Tech Program

The department offers a four year Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) program (comprising of eight semesters).The curriculum is designed to give you exposure to a wide spectrum of related fields. Core courses in Telecommunications, Microelectronics and VLSI design, Power Electronics and Power System, Control System and Embedded Systems help give a B.Tech. student an overview of all areas in the EE department. Further, by pursuing an Honours (taking extra Post Graduate level courses) or in the course of the final year project, B.Tech students have the opportunity to specialize to some extent in the area of their interest. In addition to theory courses, laboratory courses also make sure that the student gets hands-on experience with digital and analog electronics, motors and microprocessors. The undergraduate students can also undertake various research projects either through Undergraduate Research Award (URA) or through the BTech Project.

Honors in Electrical Engineering

A B.Tech. student is said to have “Graduated with Honors in Electrical Engineering” when she/he has done a certain number of courses from the honors course list of the Department over and above the normal credit requirement. The exact details of the programme are clearly specified in the Academic Rulebook of the Institute. The department has a fairly flexible honors program allowing the choice of a great number of courses for Honors requirements. All EE Post Graduate level courses, as well as a few allied courses from the Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, MEMS (Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science) and IEOR (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) departments are included in the Honors List too.

Dual Degree Programme

The Dual Degree Programme in EE at IITB is offered in the specializations mentioned below:

1) Microelectronics
2) CSP (Communication and Signal Processing)

It involves doing an extra course over and above the normal B.Tech curriculum (without Honours) each semester starting from the 3rd semester. Most of these courses are electives which can be chosen from a large basket of courses pertaining to that specialization. In addition, the final fifth year is to be devoted almost solely to the Dual Degree Project that is aimed to give the student a flavor of graduate level research in that field.

What kind of courses do you have to do?

First Year : Curriculum is almost the same for all departments. The common courses that you will do on Math, Modern Physics, Computer programming will be quite useful for the subsequent years.

In the second and third year, you will do a few courses from each subfield. This would help you discover the areas that you have a liking towards. You will learn basics about electronic devices, computer architecture, circuits,control systems, communication, signal processing and transmission methods. Also by the end of the third year, you would have done some Math courses (on probability, transforms etc) that would help you in the courses you take later. Almost all core courses will be over by the end of the third year.

The rest of the coursework involves electives. Through these electives you can choose to study advanced topics in the following sub-fields:

Microelectronics : Designing a processor, Building nanoscale devices, designing circuits on small chips for different applications, developing sensors etc. Quite a few courses in this area involve concepts of Physics, mainly quantum physics.
Communications : Transmission and Reception of data, Understanding internet network, wireless technology, 3G/4G communication technology. These courses involve applications of probability and combinatorics.
Signal Processing : There are several courses that involve Linear Algebra, Probability, Optimization which have applications like face recognition, voice recognition, motion detection, data compression etc. This field has some overlap with computer science topics. This area will involve coding that you will gradually learn through these courses.

Fourth year: It is very flexible, most of the curriculum comprising electives. Choosing your own electives provides you the freedom to either dive deeper in a particular area or to pursue multiple areas.

Core specializations

Here is some more information on the different fields in Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay:

Microelectronics and VLSI Design:

This field refers to the design of circuits and devices that power the latest slim smartphones, the next generation processors. Work in this area can be categorized into device level, circuit level work and processor level work. Microelectronics and VLSI is one of the two DD specializations offered by the EE department at IIT Bombay.

The courses in the devices area (Microelectronics) cover the following aspects:


1) Understanding the physics behind electron transport
2) Understanding how electronic devices like transistors work
3) Modelling and simulating newer designs for the next generation devices which would be of the nanometre scale
4) Fabrication of devices designed in silicon or polymers
5) Designing sensors for a variety of applications

Microelectronics has a big overlap with physics. If you are interested, you can take multiple courses from the Physics department to get a better perspective of device functioning.

VLSI is an abbreviation for Very Large Scale Integration which refers to the millions of transistors that are put together in the form of digital and analog circuits on a chip to perform some functionality.


1. Digital Circuit Design
2. Analog and Mixed Signal VLSI Circuit Design
3. RF Circuit (High frequency) design
4. VLSI CAD (Computer Aided Design - Developing tools for designing multi million transistor circuits)

The courses in the processor area cover the following aspects:


1. Processor Designing (you can learn how to design a good processor and will be able to think how to design 8085, ARM).
2. Computer Architecture (role of each functional block in a multi-core processor.
3. Testing and verification of VLSI circuits.

IITB has one of the only two nanofabrication facilities in India. You have professors here, who are working on cool projects like making night vision IR goggles for the Indian Army, or sensors to detect TNT (explosives). There have also been advances in application of electrical engineering in biology. There are courses on bio-sensors and neuromorphic engineering (the IBM ‘brain chip’) for gaining insights into these topics.

Communication and Signal Processing

Communications and Signal Processing is the other DD specialization offered at IIT-B. In communications, the challenge is to transmit data so that error at the receiver is minimal, and to send as much as possible as fast as possible while limited by a power constraint. This is where you learn how mobile phone networks operate. Courses in communication deal with aspects like:


1. Coding schemes to transmit data as efficiently and correctly as possible.
2. Networks of communication like the internet and how different protocols operate.
3. Wireless networks and communication

A lot of today’s technology, ranging from CT scans to fingerprint matching to Apple’s Siri, is heavily reliant on some form of signal processing. Plenty of systems in the world today use sensors in some form. Sensors can be microphones or cameras or even MRI machines. The output of these sensors is a signal in some form, which may be a representation of audio or of an image or anything else (seismic activity, ECG). The analysis of signals comprises of many aspects:


1. How to efficiently sample continuous data for best results
2. Filtering (extracting relevant parts of a signal)
3. Techniques to find patterns in data

These signals can be analyzed or modified for a variety of applications:


1. Images can be modified to to improve the quality or give it a certain effect (what Photoshop does), faces in images can be identified, depth of different objects in the image can be found
2. Songs can be identified (Shazam), voice commands can be recognized (Siri), off-key singing can be corrected (Auto-tune)
3. Heart ailments can be diagnosed from ECG signals, tumors can be detected in MRI images, OMR Answer sheets from a competitive exam can be corrected

Communications and Signal processing utilize many mathematical tools like linear algebra, probability and stochastic processes and optimization theory, as well as some programming. Among all these, probability is especially useful in communications courses and there are courses specially devoted to probability and associated areas. Although traditionally signal processing is considered as EE, there is also considerable overlap with some fields in Computer Science (eg. Machine Learning) and Mathematics.

Power Electronics and Power Systems

Future is energy, and that’s what this aspect of EE focuses on. Whatever be the source of energy, it is converted into Electrical energy which is easier to transmit as well as use. This field concentrates on improving the conversion mechanisms and the transmission. What you can expect from courses in this area:


1. Designing efficient motors and electricity generators
2. How to use renewable energy - solar cells, wind energy
3. Manage power plants and analyze power distribution systems (the power grid)

With the advent of smart grids, power has become more ‘intelligent’ in the recent past, and Power Systems has been drifting closer and closer to Communication Systems and Microelectronics to cater to the needs of the world better.

Control and Computing

Control systems are designed to regulate, monitor and precisely control the behavior of systems in nature or any device. An example of a control system would be the system used to track satellites or a system that automatically closes or opens a dam based on water levels. The Controls and computing group investigates the theoretical and algorithmic principles underlying modern electrical engineering to solve problems. Courses would focus on design of Controls Systems, Matrix computations and Linear Algebra, Network Theory, Discrete Mathematics and Graph Theory.

A blend of concepts from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, courses in Controls and Computing often see great relevance in many interdisciplinary areas, and many concepts are often drawn upon in a wide variety of fields ranging from aerodynamics to game theory, and beyond. For example, any stable system requires to be based on sound control theory concepts - be it a million node circuit, or a pencil balanced on a ruler. This branch of Electrical Engineering goes hand-in-hand with the others, and is viewed upon as a necessary complement to the rest of Electrical engineering.

Electronic Systems

This group deals with application oriented systems with integrated and(or) embedded electronics. The washing machine that’s programmable, or the mobile phone that comes with an inbuilt blood pressure sensor. The group is closely connected with the Microelectronics and Signal processing groups, testing out ideas and making complete products. In the freshman year, this is the group you’ll be encountering most, whether it may be the Department Introductory Course, or the Electrified sessions that you will have in the Wadhwani Electronics Laboratory.

The group also works on making devices that can help hearing impaired people speak, using a blend of Speech processing techniques and Electronic hardware. Another project undertaken by the group includes an ECG sensor which immediately calls for help using a mobile phone if the user has a heart attack. This group also has a really cool haptic tool, that can help you feel virtual textures, as well as program them. This is being used to preserve in virtual space, ancient monuments of importance and thus preserving our cultural heritage.

What after you are an Electrical Engineer?

There is a lot research going on in the fields mentioned above. The curriculum allows students to explore the areas through electives and projects. Quite a lot of students who are interested in research go for MS/PhD in their area of interest at prestigious universities. There is a significant overlap with Computer science in some fields, so some of the students also go for MS in a field of Computer Science.

During placements, there are companies that require engineers for the subfields mentioned above. Therefore, those who wish to get some industry exposure choose to take jobs in core sector which are available through placements.

The type of mathematics used in the field of Electrical Engineering is quite similar to what is required for jobs in Finance sector. This enables students to easily switch to finance sector if they wish and use their mathematical skills in the area of finance.

Additional information

Some students feel that Electrical Engineering is all about circuits. This is false as it has subdivisions (like Signal processing, communication) which involve very less of circuits. In 12th standard, Semiconductors is taught in school. Some students do not like it and consider not taking electrical because of that. All that stuff is taught again at IIT in a much more interesting way. Also, the study of semiconductors constitutes only a part of Electrical engineering. There are subfields that are completely independent of it.

Important Links

DAMP Blog: https://dampeeiitb.wordpress.com
Department website:https://www.ee.iitb.ac.in

Department Alumni


Parthe Pandit, Dual Degree (CSP) – 2015


This blogpost is organized year-wise, freshie-sophie-thirdie-fourthie, and is meant to be read by a freshie starting his life at EE@IITB. Sophomores who have BC-ed (Branch-changed) into EE are welcome to go through this to know what they have missed. I have tried to jot down the experiences and expertise an EE student might be expected to gain by the end of each year. I have also mentioned my (physical) interactions with the department in the first 4 of the 5 years I spent in the EE department. A disclaimer regarding the information in the blogpost is due at this point since the curriculum may have undergone changes since I was a student. In case you are a Dual Degree student the only thing that differs is that (i) you have to do a Dual Degree project (DDP) in your fifth year and (ii) your specialization is already decided at the time of admission whereby you have to do a specialization course of your choice every semester from the second year onwards.

First year:
The interaction of a freshie with the department as such is minimal. There are only two courses EE101 and EE102, one in each semester, which try to introduce each of the 5 areas mentioned above (and beyond) and motivate you to study and excel in Electrical Engineering in the years to come. There may a brief description of the history and evolution of Electrical Engineering. Although this last bit seems boring to listen to in a classroom, especially when you are expecting stuff like wireless charging, humanoids and what not, it makes you more aware regarding the field and often also makes for an interesting conversation outside the classroom, especially during placements.

There are no lab courses in the department in the first year, which may make you think that you are not getting a "feel" for what you are studying. But trust me, you are in for way too many lab courses to compensate for this in the years to come.

At the end of the year, you should have a good feel for what Electrical Engineering is about. An electrician can no longer fool you by saying "3-phase DC induction motor lagyenge toh acha rahega" or that the 3 pins at a plug point are in fact a 3 phase supply. You should also have gained enough knowledge to tinker around with electronic devices on your own, understand specifications mentioned on most gadgets, know if a charger will reduce the battery life of your phone or laptop, or how using spike guards in series may be a tad bit flimsier than an extension board. The list is endless.

To those of you who know of Kung-fu-Panda.. "There is now a Level 0!" (EN...)

Second year:
As a sophie, the courses are more narrowed down than the broad courses studied in the previous year. Obviously, there will now be labs for courses which are not theoretical and for which the level 0 has actually been attained. Broadly speaking, you may be expected to understand certain principles of design and finally appreciate the difference between engineering and science. The lab courses teach you a lot. There will always be a way to free ride on the efforts of your labmates, but it is really worth the while to put in effort to see a system work on a bread-board. You will realize that a simulation always differs from the actual hardware and last but not the least - you will, probably, have also learnt how to debug a hardware system, rather than jump to naive speculations of "bread-board kharab hoga". (ENGI...)

Third year:
By the beginning of third year, you will have spent two academic years and two summer vacations as an IITian doing something either you like or realizing what you aren’t fond of. You will also probably have found out if you are still interested in Electrical Engineering, in which case you should probably look for "core internships". Depending on this you will take courses which are either (i) meant for learning or (ii) well-known for "peace" grading.

Nevertheless, the core courses in the third year are typically intermediate level courses. Again, one course for each of the 5 streams. As expected, they will again be accompanied by labs so that what is learnt in class is hoped to be observed/applied on hardware. Before you leave for your internship, it is worth asking the question "what do I expect to learn/gain out of this experience?" (ENGINE... now you know what this really is..!)

## Fourth year:
The fourth year brings with it some apprehension. If it doesn't, good for you! It certainly did for me. At this point in your life at IIT Bombay, you are (or you think you are) the "Master of your domain" so there is no point writing a lot about the fourth year. A wing senior is probably a more reliable person to give you fundae at this point.

By now, you have settled at IITB, and you will probably be anxious about answering the questions "What’s next?" and "What is my passion?" and so on, while your hair starts greying, or worse balding, to thinking about MBA-MS/PhD-Job-Startup-UPSC and what not!

You have to choose a specialization in Electrical Engineering. If you're interested you will take up a B.Tech project (BTP) for which you will have to choose an advisor and so on. Since the courses are typically specialization courses from one of the 5 streams, you will probably not do them with your wingies and hence make new friends whom you didn't know until now. More advanced the course are, say 5xx or 6xx, more the number of assignments you will be given in a week. Although to tell you the truth the most I learnt during my IIT days was when I solved these assignments.



(voila.. ENGINEER :D)

To think of it, my 6 years at IITB have flown by faster than I would have liked. EE@IITB, though not as flashy as the hostels or the SAC, is a wonderful place where your brilliant minds will flourish. Who knows you could be the next Shannon! Good Luck.

Bio: Parthe Pandit spent 6 years (2010-2016) in IIT Bombay, 5 as a DD-CSP student of the Electrical Engineering Department and 1 as a research assistant in Systems and Controls Department. His next halt is at UCLA, pursuing his PhD in EE. He can be contacted at parthe1292@gmail.com

Gururaj Saileshwar, Dual Degree (Micro) – 2014

Like you, I am entering a new phase of my life- joining Georgia Tech in August,2016 as a PhD student in Computer Architecture. Since joining IIT-Bombay in 2009, I have had some diverse experiences - from being deeply interested in academics at IIT-B, to exploring the world of management consulting at Boston Consulting Group, to finally exploring a life in academia as a research scholar at Georgia Tech. Hopefully my experiences can give you some insight into what is in store for you – if you pick EE, IITB.

At IIT-Bombay, the Electrical Engineering Department provided me an excellent environment to thrive academically. The diverse set of courses available at EE, IITB straddling physics & chemistry (semiconductor physics), maths (communication & signal processing) and Computer Science (VLSI & Computer Architecture), allowed me to explore different sub-fields. In addition, the department has a culture encouraging research among undergrads. Opportunities for research with professors came in multiple formats - summer projects, in-semester research based courses, bachelors/master's theses projects. These allowed me to decide whether I liked doing research & the areas I liked & disliked. Lastly the professors & peer group at EE, IITB are probably one of the best in the country – they bring out the best in you academically.

In addition, I cannot stress how important the extra-curricular experiences at IITB have been in shaping my outlook towards life. Some of my most important life lessons have been learnt during my time working with the mentorship programme at IITB, or while training with the swimming team. Rest assured, there are enough extra-curricular opportunities at IITB to pursue whatever hobbies that suit one's interests – ensuring one gets a well-rounded preparation towards success in life.