• Length:
    7 Weeks
  • Effort:
    7–12 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $149 USD

  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
  • Language:
  • Video Transcript:
  • Course Type:
    Instructor-led on a course schedule


This course assumes you have programmed before, at a level equivalent to a 1-semester course. C programming experience is helpful but Python or another language is sufficient.

This course also assumes you are reasonably comfortable with mathematics, but has no specific knowledge requirements beyond second year high school algebra.

About this course

Skip About this course

Digital systems have revolutionized our world. From television to cell phones to GPS to warfare to automobiles to medicine to distance education, computers and digital processing have reshaped the way we live and work. The semiconductor industry has grown from $21B in 1985 to $412B in 2019, making it one of the largest sectors of the economy. Computers are also a vital part of daily practice in every field of science and engineering.

Previous generations of engineers learned the “nuts and bolts” of the profession by doing hand-on projects such as disassembling and rebuilding engines. As technology has advanced, cars have become too complicated for the average person to work on. Ironically, the same advances have made computers much easier to build. While most fields of engineering require extensive mathematics and complicated analysis of even rather simple components, digital systems merely require counting from 0 to 1. Their challenge, instead, is in combining many simple building blocks into a complex whole. In this class, you will experiment with digital systems, building simple circuits from logic gates on a breadboard and designing more complex systems with a logic simulator. You will learn how to systematically create digital systems with a desired function. By the end of this course, you will have the knowledge and experience to design digital systems and be prepared for more advanced coursework.

Beyond the practical reasons to take this class, I hope you find it enormously fun and exciting like I do. There's a great satisfaction about being able to build things. Digital systems are ideal because the components are far cheaper and easier to use than in other engineering fields. It's also amazing to demystify how digital systems work under the hood. I fell in love with digital design when I first studied it in college, and I hope you do too!

This is the first half of a 2-part sequence. This half covers digital design. The second half, ENGR85B, covers computer architecture, where you will learn to program, use, and build microprocessors. By the end of the second half, you will have designed your own microprocessor and understand it all the way from the transistor level to the software. You'll also have built smart gadgets and games with lights and sensors.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Build digital systems at levels of abstraction from transistors through circuits and logic.
  • Manage complexity using the digital abstraction, static and dynamic disciplines, and hierarchical design.
  • Design and implement combinational and sequential digital circuits using schematics and hardware description languages.
  • Analyze and trade off performance, cost, and power consumption of digital circuits.
  • Begin the practice of implementing and debugging digital systems with appropriate lab techniques including breadboarding and interpreting datasheets.
  • Simulate digital circuits with the free student edition of Mentor Graphics ModelSim.

Meet your instructors

Joshua Brake
Asst. Professor of Engineering
Harvey Mudd College
David Harris
Harvey Mudd College

Pursue a Verified Certificate to highlight the knowledge and skills you gain
$149 USD

View a PDF of a sample edX certificate
  • Official and Verified

    Receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution's logo to verify your achievement and increase your job prospects

  • Easily Shareable

    Add the certificate to your CV or resume, or post it directly on LinkedIn

  • Proven Motivator

    Give yourself an additional incentive to complete the course

  • Support our Mission

    edX, a non-profit, relies on verified certificates to help fund free education for everyone globally