EE108S: First Year Design Experience



The First Year Design Experience is for incoming ECE students who are curious about how the conceptual topics that they are studying will be used to design components, bigger components, systems-of-components and finally systems-of-systems. The smart phone is a complex system-of-systems that will be decomposed down to its basic components. The reinvention process will help the students gain an understanding of the engineering concepts that they will be learning in future courses by understanding how these concepts are used in a smart phone.

The student will receive one credit hour for each semester. Participants will be selected by the instructors from their EE302 and EE306 classes.


Why take this course?

The course is intended to get students motivated to start tinkering and making stuff early in their academic career as shown in the ladder diagram to the right. The ladder shows a progression of learning experiences that will start by taking this course. There will be follow-on course that will help the student climb the ladder

The expected outcome of the two semester sequence is to:

  • Provide a well rounded first year design experience that is centered around the Longhorn Maker Studio where the students will "Learn Design through the Process of Reinvention"

  • Provide an experience that ties key concepts from EE302/306/312/319K together by looking at them in a system application

  • Provide visibility into the engineering concepts that the students will learn in future classes and gain an appreciation for the bottoms-up learning approach

  • Provide the student skills that will help them obtain an internship at the end of their first year

  • Open future opportunities for the students such as a second/third year design experience, participation in student led companies, senior entrepreneurial design etc.


Why invention?

Research [1] has shown that inventing:

In addition it helps the student to:

Inventing -- building something new or making something better -- is often thought of as a purely creative act. In fact, invention demands much more than a vision[2]. It requires:

The process of reinventing an existing product will expose the student to a wide range of topics including:

Course prerequisites: 

Ideally, students should be registered in EE302 and EE306 during the Fall semester and in EE312 and EE319K during the Spring semester. That said, we are very flexible on the prerequisites. Please contact me at with any questions you might have.



Mark McDermott
Office: EER 5.826, Phone: (512) 471-3253
Office hours: TBD


Scott Evans
Office: ETC 5.166, Phone: (512) 475-7588
Office hours: TBD


Classroom: EER 1.516,  Tuesday  7:00 - 9:00 PM


[1] Meant To Invent, Academy of Applied Science, 2002
[2] Teaching through Invention, 

Electronic Mail Notification Policy:

In this course e-mail will be used as a means of communication with students. You will be responsible for checking your e-mail regularly for class work and announcements. The complete text of the University electronic mail notification policy and instructions for updating your e-mail address are available at

Use of Canvas and Class Web Site

This course uses the class web page and Canvas to distribute course materials, to communicate and collaborate online, to submit assignments and to post solutions and grades. You will be responsible for checking the class web page and the Canvas course site regularly for class work and announcements. As with all computer systems, there are occasional scheduled downtimes as well as unanticipated disruptions. Notification of disruptions will be posted on the Canvas login page. Scheduled downtimes are not an excuse for late work. However, if there is an unscheduled downtime for a significant period of time, I will make an adjustment if it occurs close to the due date.

Students with disabilities

The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 471-6259,

Religious Holidays

Religious holy days sometimes conflict with class and examination schedules. If you miss an examination, work assignment, or other project due to the observance of a religious holy day you will be given an opportunity to complete the work missed within a reasonable time after the absence. It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin that you must notify each of your instructors at least fourteen days prior to the classes scheduled on dates you will be absent to observe a religious holy day.

Academic dishonesty:

Oral discussion of homework problems is encouraged. However, be sure to submit your own individual and independent solution. Labs and final projects can be done in teams. Collaboration on projects is encouraged. Copying of any part of a homework/lab solution or project report without explicit reference to its source is plagiarism and considered cheating.

Classroom Evacuation and Emergency Preparedness

All occupants of university buildings are required to evacuate a building when a fire alarm and/ or an official announcement is made indicating a potentially dangerous situation within the building. Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building. If you require assistance in evacuation, inform your instructor in writing during the first week of class. For evacuation in your classroom or building:

Follow the instructions of faculty and teaching staff.    Exit in an orderly fashion and assemble outside.

Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by emergency personnel.

Emergency evacuation route information and emergency procedures can be found at:     &

Last updated:  Wednesday, November 07, 2018 11:13 AM