This is the fourth article (Embedded System Engineering)in the series of engineering disciplines that I had started to address the frequently asked questions by young engineers and undergraduates. In this article I will discuss about the embedded system engineering which is one of the most popular branch of Electrical Engineering. Prior to this I have addressed the telecommunication engineering and discussed some salient points about the telecommunication engineering. Before I start let me highlight some important points that will be discussed here. The primary purpose of this series is to address the questions commonly asked by the students and young engineers and to clear the silly doubts which if left unaddressed can lead to considerable consequences.
Embedded System Engineering
As an experienced engineer I have been approached a lot of times by the young engineers and my juniors from engineering colleges and they asked me to guide them about which subject should they chose for specialization, how he / she can be a successful engineer, what skillset do he / she require for winning a job and finally which is the best final year project that can give a boost start to their career. The situation is alarming sometimes because some final year students asked these kind of questions who are about to just pass and thus they sound to have no interest in the field they have specialized. Through this article I am trying to educate as many students and young engineers as possible. So let us start, sit back, keep reading and enjoy the show.
What is Embedded System Engineering?
The most common question asked by the engineering students or rather I should say that could be asked by the students is “What is Embedded System Engineering?” Before we address this question let us learn about the embedded systems because only then embedded system engineering can be understood.
Embedded Systems Basics:
Embedded system is an electrical circuit that is programmed to do specific / dedicated task. Embedded systems can be found in almost every electronic product of our daily use for instance the washing machine has an embedded system that controls the cycles of washing / timing of the particular spin. The micro wave oven has the embedded system which is dedicated to heat the food for the set time. Similarly the IR remote of your television is also the embedded system and so is the speedometer of your car.
Embedded Systems Examples in our Life:
Now let us come to the original question and most of you have already guessed that embedded system engineering deals with the hardware and firmware development of embedded systems. Embedded system engineering deals with real world implementation of novel products which interact with the environment, extracts the useful information, processes the data and thus perform the task that aids the human or the overall process. An example of the product of embedded system engineering is the health monitoring wearable. These and other related devices are equipped with various types of sensors, sensor interfacing circuits, processors and sometimes actuators which collectively perform the particular tasks. Introduction of new technologies lead to the development of more economical, power efficient, cost efficient and robust designs.
So if any student is interested in product development, hardware and firmware designing the embedded system engineering is the good for him / her.
Embedded system engineering is the most popular discipline today among students and engineers as it is with the knowledge of this discipline that the engineer can develop his / her own product and can launch it in market. The embedded system engineering has provided enormous opportunities to engineers who are passionate and want to implement their ideas.
An important development in the field of embedded system engineering is the large and diverse mount of microcontroller development boards, System on Chip development boards and various other modules and kits for example GSM modules or RF modules etc. The microcontroller development boards has ease the life of an embedded system engineer, he / she can bought the development board in a reasonable price and start development right away, similar is the case of SoCs. A large number of development boards are available in the market based on latest SoCs which comprise the latest technologies and thus embedded system engineer can develop and work on the latest technologies. For example the popular board ESP 32 DEV KIT is based on ESP32 SoC which comprises the Bluetooth low energy (BLE). The most popular development that I bet every student would be aware of is Arduino UNO. Arduino UNO is the microcontroller development board based on ATMEGA 328P microcontroller and is the best board for implementing designs that requires low processing speed.
Scope of Embedded System Engineering:
The second thing that the students are most concerned of is the scope of the field and honestly it is not the about the field they are concerned of, they are concerned if they can secure a jobJ. The only thing I say to students that one need to be the engineer that companies would want to hire and would not hesitate to pay you and this is the case only when the engineer has extraordinary skillset. As far as the scope of embedded system engineering is concerned, it has a great scope, just try to imagine that each and every home in your area would have a lot of embedded systems for example a TV remote, washing machine, micro wave oven, automatic blinds, refrigerator system, smart watch, health band etc. Embedded system has a huge market so you don’t need to care about the scope of the embedded system just try to focus on the skillset.
Skillset of Embedded System Engineer:
Obviously I should expect the question “What are essential skillset of the Embedded System Engineer?” BY the way this is the most important question that I want to address here. These are only the skillset which determines whether the embedded system engineer has the tendency to survive with the pacing technology. Following is the list of some skillset that the embedded system engineer should acquire.
- Embedded system engineer should have strong knowledge of basic circuit analysis.
- Embedded system engineer should have sound knowledge of electronic devices and design techniques.
- Embedded system engineer should have strong understanding of analog and digital electronic circuit design principles.
- Embedded system engineer should be aware of latest technologies, microcontroller development boards and System on chip development boards.
- Embedded system engineer should be aware latest modular circuits.
- Embedded system engineer should be good in circuit prototyping.
- Embedded system engineer should know the interfacing techniques of sensor.
- Embedded system engineer should be comfortable with signaling techniques for example differential / balanced signaling, single ended signaling etcetera.
- Embedded system engineer should have strong knowledge of serial communication interfaces such as serial peripheral interface (SPI), Inter integrated Circuit (I2C), Universal Serial Bus (USB), CAN bus, MODBUS, UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter) etc.
- Embedded system engineer should have sound knowledge of interfacing circuits and digital logic families.
- Besides good hardware understanding embedded system engineer also has a good understanding of firmware development.
- Embedded system engineer should be able to develop firmware for microcontrollers, System on chips (SoCs).
- Embedded system engineer should be aware of all the peripherals such as timers, interrupts, prescalers etc.
- Embedded system engineer should be able to run schematic capture softwares.
- Embedded system engineer should be able to design Printed Circuit Board.
- Embedded system engineer should have knowhow of power electronics.
Final Year Projects:
Having said about the skillset of the embedded system engineer let us now speak about the final year projects. Final year projects of engineering students play the vital role in the career of students as almost all the companies in the interview of fresh graduates ask about their final year projects and thus can assess the practical knowledge of the students. So the selection of the final year project is quite critical and the students should spend some time to select the final year project. I am listing some of the most popular projects of embedded system engineering but before going through the list I would like to advise you something. As I mentioned in my last article that each and every company shorts the lists the candidate for the interview whose CV match the requirements of the job description. So first if you do want to get hired immediately after the graduation select the final year project such that it has features common to the technologies employed in most companies. Secondly do modify the CV and highlight the points of your final year project that matches the job description of the company.
Let us list down some of the popular projects of embedded system engineering.
- Hurdle avoiding vehicle based on microcontroller.
- Solar tracking system based on light sensor, microcontroller and Maximum power point tracking algorithm.
- Face detection system based on image processing algorithm and digital signal processor.
- Employee authorization system based thumb impression detecting system.
- Access granting system based on RFID tags.
- Remote controlled vehicle for bomb disposal.
- IR sensor based home automation system.
- Gate opener based on heavy duty motors and Bluetooth system on chip.
- LoRa module home / office automation system.
- GSM based home / office automation system.
- IoT based home automation / office system.
- Speedometer of bicycle based on microcontroller.
- Health monitoring system based accelerometer MEMS and microcontroller.
- Person counting system based on image processing algorithm and high speed digital signal processor.
- Human detection system based on image processing
- Line following robot based on image processing algorithm.
There are a lot of other final year projects too, here only a few popular projects have been listed. One should go through all the available resources online and then judge which project to select.
That is all for now folks, I have tried to cover as many things as possible, I hope this article would be helpful for you yet if you have some questions feel free to come in comment section. In the next article I will discuss other important topics, till then stay connected, keep reading and enjoy learning.