Often, there are questions about what can or can’t be done in office space, what is available in the computer lab or hardware labs, etc. To simplify things, there is a document for reference: SD00003-002.
Most of this is common sense. However, it does include some important points to remember as you progress from class work to simulation to hardware.
As mentioned in the above document, there is a computer lab available for use in 4076 ECEB. There are also computers available in 50N EL and 330C EL, primarily for use in conjunction with hardware experiments. Students may also bring computers in. To connect your computer to the network, contact ECE Computer and Technology Services.
Our system administrator formerly maintained a web page at http://energy.ece.uiuc.edu/sysadmin/. This includes information of general interest to computer users, though it is now out of date.
Documenting Your Work
Everyone would agree that the single most important document that you will generate is your thesis. Similarly, conference and journal papers are important in establishing your reputation and in communicating your results to the rest of the profession.
In addition, it is important that the Power & Energy Systems Area, as a group, learns and evolves. Again and again, new students re-create work that was previously performed but poorly documented. This wastes time, and minimizes the previous student’s impact. Often, at the end of a hardware project, we have circuit boards or other devices that are clearly useful, but cannot be made to work without knowing how to hook things up. Almost as important, none of the thoughts about filter design, etc., are available, only the resulting component values. Software may only be available in executable form, which cannot be used as the basis for a new project.
To help us grow as an organization, we have created a documentation system. It is still in its infancy and needs everyone’s input to make it a better system. It can be found at \\ece-powernts2\ECE Power Design Archives. There are several different types of documents categorized, including mechanical drawings, circuit boards, software, simulation, and generic design and specification documents. Each main folder includes a readme that describes the process for filing a document.
What should be documented? Anything that you want to survive past your time here at UIUC. Anything potentially useful to the next student or other researcher. Definitely, any fabricated PCBs. Any mechanical design that you do, although probably not designs that the machine shop does. If in doubt, go ahead and document it. This shouldn’t be an onerous task. We are asking for something like an hour at the end of a project that will save the next person weeks or months of re-creating your work.
This is also an important step in learning as an engineer. Ultimately, the work product of every designer is the document that tells someone how to implement the design, or what it can be used for. In an industrial setting, there are many more controls and approvals. For our purposes, it is enough that a document exists and is accessible.