BIOMEDE 211, Circuits and Systems in Biomedical Engineering

Lectures: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m. – 1:20 p.m., 1008 FXB

Course description (from ABET course profile)

Students learn circuits and linear systems concepts necessary for analysis and design of biomedical systems. Theory is motivated by examples from biomedical engineering. Topics covered include electrical circuit fundamentals, operational amplifiers, frequency response, electrical transients, impulse response, transfer functions and convolution, all motivated by circuit and biomedical examples. Elements of continuous time domain-frequency domain analytical techniques are developed.

Course description (in other terms)

Electrical circuits are everywhere. Phenomena and systems whose behavior can be modeled as circuits are also everywhere. Many of these phenomena and systems are of particular interest to biomedical engineers. These include but are not limited to the circuitry and theory behind biopotential amplification, the passive electrical properties of biological tissues, how drugs diffuse, oxygen saturates, hearts go on beating. We will endeavor to learn at least those examples in depth, along with all the necessary electrical circuitry knowledge requisite of a university-trained engineer. 


Barry Belmont, Matt Akiska, Kiana Sadri, Alice Tracey


Previous/Concurrent coursework

MATH 216, “Differential Equations” and PHYSICS 240, “General Physics II”, or equivalent.


Fundamentals of Electric Circuits by Charles K. Alexander and Matthew Sadiku, 6th edition, or equivalent. (There are many good introductory texts. Please feel free to find one that works best for you. I adopt this particular textbook to match EECS 215, “Introduction to Electronic Circuits”.)

A well-maintained notebook

Taking good notes is an important habit to get into at this stage in one’s academic career. As such, I will ask every individual to turn in at least one day’s notes for a spot check of your good documentation practices and to contribute to the class’s learning. Moreover, a team notebook describing your time with laboratory experience will be assessed.

Access to the internet regularly

The administration of the class will be done through Canvas, including submission of assignments and class-wide announcements. Please check it when you can. 


The times and the tides require us to change periodically. That said, I plan to evaluate your knowledge of circuits and systems via the following assessments:
  1. Homework I on foundational electrical physics with special application within the biomedical realm (Jan 22, 100 points) 
  2. Homework II on basic circuit analysis for arbitrary planar circuits using passive components (Feb 5, 100 points)
  3. Homework III on circuit analysis using active components with transformations (Feb 19, 100 points)
  4. Exam I on synthesizing knowledge of circuits to analyze arbitrary active circuits with special reference to biomedical applications (Feb 24, 300 points)
  5. Lab I on using basic laboratory equipment and constructing simple circuits on breadboards (by Feb 26, 100 points, team-based); teams will be randomly assigned and a group notebook describing laboratory activities will be collected
  6. Homework IV on the application of the Laplace transform to ordinary differential equations (Mar 18, 100 points) 
  7. Homework V on system convolution, response, and design (Apr 1, 100 points)
  8. Homework VI on the acquisition of bioelectrical signals (Apr 15, 100 points)
  9. Lab II on the design of a biopotential amplifier (by Apr 22, 100 points, team-based); teams will be randomly assigned and a group notebook describing laboratory activities will be collected
  10. Class participation via one set of lecture notes which may either be neatly written by hand, typeset, and/or a revision of the set of notes available (by Apr 22, 100 points)
  11. Exam II on the application of electricals circuits to interface with biomedical systems (Apr 24, 300 points)
In total there are 1500 points available. I intend to use the following scale to assign final grades. If any changes are made to this scale, the class will be informed in a timely manner. Grades will not be “curved down” to meet some arbitrary bell shape, though I am structuring the class in such a way that I expect the average engineer to receive approximately a C. 
A+ ≥ 1,450 pts; A ≥ 1,400 pts; A– ≥ 1,350 pts;
B+ ≥ 1,300 pts; B ≥ 1,250 pts; B– ≥ 1,200 pts;
C+ ≥ 1,150 pts; C ≥ 1,100 pts; C– ≥ 1,050 pts;
D+ ≥ 1,000 pts; D ≥ 950 pts; D– ≥ 900 pts;
899 ≥ Try Again


Late Policy

In a bid to keep the class rolling along, the instructors will endeavor to return graded assignments with about a week. That being the case, a deduction of one point per hour will be applied to every assignment submitted late (with lateness being measured as the rounded integer of hours displayed by Canvas as past the due date). If mitigating circumstances preclude you from submitting an assignment on time (e.g., taking care of your health; once in a lifetime family stuff, etc.) please let the instructors know in a reasonable amount of time so that accommodations may be made.

Sickness, Health Policy

I am going to assume that you will not lie to me about your health and so if you need to take care of yourself/your health for a period of time that precludes you from participating in the course, please let me know what I can do to best help you catch up, but also please do not feel compelled to tell me your health state or furnish me with doctor’s notes. If you need to take a couple of days for yourself, please do so. (But be mindful of those due dates!)

Exam Policy

The exams will be on February 24 (11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in 1008 FXB) and April 24 (4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in 1008 FXB). These are not moveable. If you need to take the exam at another time, please let me know as soon as possible. 
They are meant as individual, standardized “spot check” assessments. There is often a lot of pressure/stress/worry regarding exams, but I’d really like to alleviate those concerns. They’re more like supercharged and streamlined homeworks than anything truly scary. Many practice problems are provided beforehand to help give you a feel for what could be asked. You will also be permitted to draft up a single sided reference sheet for use on an exam that you must upload to Canvas before the exam (and submit after). No examples may be worked out on said reference sheet. 

Honor Code

All students in the class are presumed to be decent and honorable, and all students in the class are bound by the College of Engineering Honor Code. You may not seek to gain an unfair advantage over your fellow students; you may not consult, look at, or possess the unpublished work of another without their permission; and you must appropriately acknowledge your use of another’s work. Any violation of the honor policies appropriate to each piece of course work will be reported to the Honor Council, and if guilt is established penalties may be imposed by the Honor Council and Faculty Committee on Discipline. Such penalties can include, but are not limited to, letter grade deductions or expulsion from the University. If you have any questions about this course policy, please consult the course instructor.


Email is just the internet’s snail mail. If you need to get a hold of me as quickly as possible in a professorial capacity the following is the quickest route to the exhaustive ways:
  1. Stop by my office, 2130 LBME, if I’m in my office, I will almost always talk to you;
  2. Call my office phone, 734-647-8638, if I’m in my office, I will almost always answer it;
  3. Talk to me before or after class or in the hallway, but make sure I write it down;
  4. Send me an email through Canvas (within 1 business day); and
  5. Send me an email to my email address, (within 3-5 business days).

New and Experimental Features 

Laboratory Modules

In Fall of 2020, the Department of Biomedical Engineering intends to incorporate a laboratory component into each of its 200-level fundamentals courses (BIOMEDE 211, “Circuits and Systems in Biomedical Engineering”, 221, “Biophysical Chemistry and Themodynamics”, 231, “Introduction to Biomechanics”). To pilot such a component, I enlist your service and your patience. 
There will be two team-based laboratory modules in this class which previously had not existed. 
  • In the first module, you will learn the basics of electronic laboratory equipment (function generators, oscilloscopes, data acquisition) and how to construct simple, yet useful circuits. A simple narrative summary of what was done in lab, including measurements, speculation, and suggestions for improvement, will be gathered using a shared electronic notebook.
  • In the second module, you will design a basic biopotential amplifier with a frequency response tailored to a specific biomedical signal. Passive and active versions of a filter will be made, measured, and refined. A simple narrative summary of what was done in lab, including measurements, speculation, and suggestions for improvement, will be gathered using a shared electronic notebook.
Two notebooks will be collected (each worth 50 points) and two peer evaluations will be given (each worth 50 points). Honest and candid feedback about how we can improve the modules will always be appreciated.

Class Notes

Last year I try to make a publicly available set of notes for the class. They can be found here ( This year, I ask that you sign up for a date in which you will submit notes for the whole class to see. These notes may include notes taken in class, notes taken during readings from the textbook, revisions of the current set of notes, etc. All this to say, I think a community of engineers learns best when they get to learn from the community of engineers. Please try to participate. So long as your submit neat notes on time it’ll be the easiest 100 points you earn in the class.