We introduce a novel hybrid approach to modernize the curriculum for the Digital Systems course, using traditional circuit construction, simulation software and implementation of circuits using reconfigurable logic. The NI Multisim circuit simulation software and a Digilent Basys-3 board are utilized. Students will use a breadboard and chips to construct basic combinational circuits using logic gates. Next, they will use the NI Multisim to build and simulate circuits that are difficult to build physically. Finally, an FPGA board will be utilized to implement the most complex circuits. Typically, the use of FPGA technology requires knowledge of HDL, which is considered too advanced for most sophomores. This problem is addressed by designing the complex circuits using the NI Multisim software graphical design suite. The students will only build the schematic circuit in the Multisim software with graphical pick-and-place components. The software suite is already equipped with a special plug-in application with translation capabilities that allows the students to download the circuit to the FPGA board. The board is equipped with enough peripherals to implement the circuits and provide an exciting experience for the students. Several labs will be designed using this approach and there will be a larger project at the end of the course. Our hybrid approach will familiarize the students with modern tools and design paradigms. Moreover, the observation of snippets of basic HDL code will lay the foundation for the study of this topic, which the students may learn later in advanced digital systems courses.

Date of publication

Spring 4-23-2019

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Dr. Mukul Shirvaikar (Chair), Dr. Prabha Sundaravadivel, Dr. Ron Pieper


Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Available for download on Thursday, April 22, 2021