Helsinki Metropolia University Students Learn Microwave Amplifier Design Using NI AWR Software
Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (UAS) is the largest UAS in Finland. Founded in 2008 as the result of the merger of two universities in the Helsinki region, the Helsinki Metropolia UAS has almost 17,000 students, of which approximately 50 percent study programs in electrical engineering and automation technology. The students in the degree program select electronics, automation technology, or electrical power engineering studies as their major and all the electronics students use NI AWR software, in at least one of their courses.
The Design Challenge
The electronics students at Helsinki Metropolia UAS take their fundamental course in radio engineering in their fourth semester and the microwave engineering course in the sixth. NI AWR Design Environment, specifically Microwave Office software, is used in both of these courses. In addition to the lectures and select hands-on laboratory assignments in this challenging field, the faculty wanted to include some computer-aided design (CAD) exercises in order to give the students a more practical view of the different matching methods and microstrip circuits in the design of passive and active microwave circuits.
Using Microwave Office software to teach different matching methods enables Prof. Valmu’s students to focus on the key aspects of the design problem rather than calculating the component values. The students also find the use of the software much more interesting compared to the old-fashioned teaching methods. Creating true passive circuits from the ground up helps the students understand the microstrip structures and their parameters much more easily, especially when they are able to see the layouts immediately. Most of microwave amplifier design instruction is done using Microwave Office software. The students specify the transistor bias points, check the stability criteria, make the tradeoff between gain and noise specifications, match the ports, and, finally, create the layout. If the students want to earn extra credit points, they may continue to construct and measure the amplifier as well.
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