First Year EE Subjects

General Advice:

1. Focus on understanding concepts, particularly in the first few weeks.

Concepts will hang around longer than just formulas and terminology, and having an understanding of what you’re doing in class will help you solve harder problems

2. Apply content from lectures and tutorials to the lab work (and vice-versa)

Knowing what’s happening in the labs is really important, particularly during assessments (which will happen every lab for E&C) and your tutors may ask you questions about why certain results are appearing. In some cases, they may ask you to learn why before they will give you a mark for the lab.

3. Complete the pre-work

Again, particularly important for the labs, the pre-work will give you a more conceptual understanding in labs as well as improving your study habits for the future.

4. Don’t be dependent on your lab partner.

They may not always understand or be able to explain everything (and two heads are better than one). Sometimes you will be assessed on your own, so you need to know how to use the equipment and be able to answer questions. A good way to do this is to switch roles quite often and take turns setting up circuits.

5. Get a calculator that can handle complex numbers and learn to use it

You can get calculators that do calculations that include complex numbers, they can also convert them between rectangular and polar form. This saves you a lot of time in exams and whilst studying, whilst reducing chance of error. A common model sold at the UTS Co-Op is the Casio fx-100 AU Plus (~$50).

6. Keep your resources.

It will save you time in future subjects as it is quicker to find information in your own notes rather than someone else’s.

Subject Specific Pro-Tips:

Introduction to Electrical and Electronic Engineering:

Pro tips:

In the early weeks, you should familiarise yourself with:
Basic concepts such as voltage, current, power and energy and how they relate to each other.
Simple circuit analysis laws: Kirchoff’s Current and Voltage Laws
These will be covered in the initial weeks of semester and further content is built on these concepts.

Online Quizzes: You have two quizzes and the highest mark is taken as your grade. Do the first quiz ahead of time so that you can use your results to determine which concepts need more work. These quizzes are also great resources to check your understanding throughout the course as well as practice for the class tests and exams.

Labs: get the prework done earlier in the week. Sometimes it will take longer than expected, particularly later in the course when more concepts are involved. The labs are timetabled for 3 hours, so don’t rush, take the time to understand what you’re doing and learn to use the equipment (some processes may appear in your lab assessment that you may have only done once or twice).

Electronics and Circuits:

Pro tips:

In the early weeks, you should become well practiced in:
Nodal analysis.
Mesh analysis.
Analysing ideal op-amps,  in particular making use of the virtual-short-circuit and infinite input impedance of an ideal op-amp.
Solving complex-looking circuits with dependent sources (bunch of simultaneous equations).

The second half of the course builds off this and having a strong foundation is important. You move into learning cool stuff about power, transfer functions, complex frequency, step responses and second order systems. Cool stuff to come, promise!

Knowing the early content well will help you do well in the mid-semester and you should take every mark you can get.

Webtutor: Do the exercises early. The best advice is to attempt them only after you have read a bit about what the exercise is on, so you have some conceptual understanding of what you’re doing. Otherwise you’re destined for trial-and-error and frustration (note: trial-and-error may work, but you’ll end up not really understanding why it worked). You can have an unlimited amount of attempts at questions that are not assessed. Come to a Parallel Studying session if you have questions!

Circuit building: Build your circuits and test them (if possible) before the labs. For most lab activities, you will not have enough time to build them in the lab as well as  complete the tasks. In the lab session you have to get signed off for pre-lab, do the lab work and get signed off for completing it and answer the post-lab questions. Sometimes these post-lab questions involve a bit of questioning from a tutor, so try your best to understand what it is you’re doing.

Feel free to build your circuits in the FLP during Parallel Study sessions, we’re happy to check if they correspond to the circuit diagrams.

How to learn the theory: Use the lecture notes to learn. They’re made by the subject coordinator, Peter McLean and can be found here (some people didn’t know they existed until a few weeks into the course).

This subject is heavily self directed, but you should collect questions as you are reading/learning/solving problems and then ask your tutor these questions in the tutorial.

By also promoting discussion with others about these topics, you can really catalyse your learning (side note: in the process of writing out your questions,  try and deduce exactly what it is you don’t understand).

Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering:

Pro tips:

This subject is broken into various topics, for each one, try to learn the basic concepts before it is covered in class.
FoEE is set up differently to most subjects, there are two 2 hour tutorials which each begin with a “mini lecture” then go straight into solving problems. Doing the pre reading and attempting to solve problems beforehand will aid your understanding instead of falling into the trap of copying solutions off the board.

Lab work. Again, the labs for FoEE are set up really differently to ones you previously experienced. There are only 3 labs during the course, each with a fair bit of pre- and post-lab work. Finding a time outside of class to solve the problems with your lab partner will be a lot easier than trying to do it alone. The questions are also set up quite differently to those in the tutorial, so you will need the lecture notes on hand!

Introductory Digital Systems:

Pro tips:

In IDS, you will learn new concepts throughout the semester which will all be needed in either the assessments or the exam, so make sure you practice questions frequently to avoid forgetting them in the exam.

If you struggle to understand or apply Boolean Algebra – don’t panic. Unless it specifically says to use it, you can use a K map to simplify the expression.

Tutorials and Labs: The tutorial sessions become replaced by extra lab time later in the semester, so if there are any concepts you are struggling with in the first few weeks, make sure to ask the tutor. The labs are crucial to learn how to use Xilinx and to complete your assessment.
Xilinx is also available in the FLP so if you need extra time to work on your assessments it is accessible, however, only the computers in the specific labs will have the correct cables that you need to program your board.


Khan Academy – Electrical Engineering

A great resource to learn concepts, though not a lot of problem solving, which should be the majority of your study time (rule of thumb).

E&C Lecture and Lab notes

They’re online and accessible whenever. You don’t need to be on BlackBoard.

SapWin (Windows only) –

A symbolic circuit simulator that can be used to check answers, do theoretical work for pre-labs or muck around with circuits.