Graduate Certificate Program in Field Programmable Gate Arrays

UMass Lowell's Graduate Certificate in Field Programmable Gate Arrays will serve as a valuable credential for BAE employees who wish to master theoretical and practical skills in FPGA development and applications.

In many application domains, the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) has become an increasingly important design option in accomplishing mission-critical tasks that require substantial computational capability, have stringent timing constraints and/or need to survive harsh environments. Engineers with software background face a steep learning curve in understanding the principles of FPGAs, which bear different characteristics in development and verification from traditional software designs. New graduates with an electrical and/or a computer-engineering background often lack in-depth knowledge of FPGA design and verification methodologies.

BAE Systems is offering this specialized training opportunity to prepare its employees for future engineering tasks. Mid-level managers and system architects may also require a greater understanding of FPGA to facilitate decision making in their organizations and to achieve performance and cost objectives in system designs.

Audience: Employees of BAE Systems with undergraduate degrees in fields such as electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, and other related engineering areas.

The series of courses in this certificate program uses a combination of theoretical and applied topics to prepare engineers and engineering managers to acquire in-depth knowledge about FPGA.

Expected Outcomes: This graduate-level certificate program will use a series of existing and new courses, as well as lab projects, to prepare students to:

  • Understand the principles, structures and operations of FPGA;
  • Understand vendor-specific features and tradeoffs of various FPGAs;
  • Learn programming languages (VHDL/Verilog) for FPGA application development;
  • Learn methodologies in FPGA design, verification and synthesis;
  • Learn advanced embedded system design with hybrid microprocessor and FPGA architecture;
  • Learn modeling and implementation of digital systems using Matlab and FPGA; and
  • Learn emerging technologies in FPGA design such as heterogeneous architecture and OpenCL.

Graduates of this certificate program can apply to UMass Lowell's MS in Electrical Engineering or MS in Computer Engineering program, and qualified courses from this certificate can then be applied towards the MS degree.

A BAE employee will need to complete the following courses to obtain the Graduate FPGA Certificate, and to be recognized by BAE systems internally as proficient in FPGA technologies.

Required Courses (6):

  1. EECE.5750 Field Programmable Gate Arrays Logic Design Techniques
  2. EECE.5620 VHDL/Verilog Synthesis & Design - Available Fall 2018!
  3. EECE.5770 Verification of Very Large Digital Designs
  4. 16.651 Advanced Embedded System Design with FPGA
  5. 16.578 Modeling and Implementation of Digital Systems using MATLAB
  6. 16.654 Heterogeneous Computing

Courses are expected to be offered one evening per week at a BAE location immediately following the workday.

The courses offered on campus will have the same contents as when they are offered at BAE. Courses offered at BAE locations are open only to BAE employees. Courses offered on campus are open to all.

Course Descriptions

EECE.5620 VHDL/Verilog Synthesis & Design

Circuit and system representations including behavioral, structural, and physical descriptions using HDL. Modeling of short and narrow MOS transistors for submission applications. Overview of CMOS technology including oxidation, epitaxy, deposition, ion implantation and diffusion essential for multi-layer vias. 2-0 and 4-0 memory structures, I/O structures and PADS. System design including structural, hierarchy, regularity, modularity and programmable gate arrays. RTL synthesis, layout and placement, design capture tools, including schematic, netlist, verification and simulation. Fast adders, sub-tractors, multipliers, dividers, ALUs, CPUs, RAMs, ROMs, row/column decoders, FIFOS, and FSMs with detailed examples. A RISC microcontroller, pipeline architecture including logic blocks, data paths, floor planning, functional verification and testing. Layout and simulation of chips as well as of PCs based on VHDL, verilog, and HILO will be encouraged. A project of industrial vigor for fabrication at MOSIS is required. 3 credits.


EECE 2650, EECE 3650 pre-req

EECE.5750 Field Programmable Gate Arrays Logic Design Techniques

Advanced logic design techniques using field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), programmable logic devices, programmable array logic devices, and other forms of reconfigurable logic. Architectural descriptions and design flow will be covered as well as rapid prototyping techniques, ASIC conversions, in-system programmability, high level language design techniques, and case studies highlighting the tradeoffs involved in designing digital systems with programmable devices. This course is generally offered summers only. 3 credits.

EECE.5770 Verification of Very Large Digital Designs

The increasing complexity of digital designs coupled with the requirement for first pass success creates a need for an engineered approach to verification. This course defines the goals for verification, presents techniques and applications, and develops a framework for managing the verification process from concept to reality. Course topics include verification tools, verification languages, verification planning, stimulus and responses, system Verilog, etc. 3 credits.


EECE.5740 Advanced Logic Design or Equivalent.

16.578 Modeling and Implementation of Digital Systems using MATLAB

The course covers the design methodology and tools to design digital systems with MATLAB. Topics include algorithm design and analysis with MATLAB, MATLAB Simulink development, conversion from algorithm to VHDL implementation, synthesis to FPGA and performance evaluation. Labs are included to practice design methodology and tools with FPGA or other platforms. 3 credits.


16.265 Logic Design, 16.216 ECE Application Programming, or permission of instructor

16.651 Advanced Embedded System Design with FPGA

The description for this course is not yet avaliable. 3 credits.


EECE.4820/561 Computer Architecture and Design, 16.480/552 Microprocessor System II & Embedded System, or permission of instructor

16.654 Heterogeneous Computing

This course introduces heterogeneous computing architecture and the design and optimization of applications that best utilize the resources on such platforms. The course topics include heterogeneous computer architecture, offloading architecture/API, operating systems for heterogeneous resources, GPU/FPGA acceleration, OpenCL programming framework, performance optimization, and software development. Labs are included to practice design methodology and tools. 3 credits.


16.561 Computer Architecture and Design or permission of instructor

Certificate Admission Requirements

  1. 1. Students in GCFPGA must have completed an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, or a closely related engineering field.
  2. 2. GRE - not required. (Note that students wishing to pursue an ensuring MS degree will be required to complete the GRE exam.)
  3. 3. GPA - Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (overall).
  4. 4. Exceptions or modifications to the above will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Note: For those wishing to pursue an MS degree upon completion of the Graduate Certificate in FPGA, applications must be received before the completion of four courses, or 12 credits. Failure to comply with this deadline will result in credits not transferring to the MS degree. Transfer credits are limited at twelve(12).

Requirements to Complete a Graduate Certificate

The six courses must be completed within a five year period with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, and with no more than 6 credits below B. Courses completed for one certificate may not be used for another certificate.

Certificate Application Process

Individuals must complete a simplified application, provide an official undergraduate transcript indicating that a baccalaureate degree has been awarded, and submit a nominal application fee. GRE's are not required.

Contact Information

BAE students may register for these courses by contacting Cheryl Chaput, Manager, Engineering Development, BAE Systems,
Phone: 603-885-9104

For all academic questions, please contact
Yan Luo, Graduate Coordinator, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Phone: 978-934-2592

For all general questions, please contact
Jacqui Hawk, Manager Corporate and Academic Partnerships, Phone: 978-934-2141

Apply Into the Program

Apply Online or complete and submit the Graduate Certificate Application form (pdf).

For further details visit UMass Lowell's Graduate Admissions.

Completing a Graduate Certificate Program

Graduate certificate courses must be completed within a five year period with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and with no more than one course with a grade below B. Once all the courses for a graduate certificate have been completed, students must complete and submit the "Graduate Certificate Clearance Form" which may be downloaded from the UMass Lowell Solution Center website. Please submit your completed form to: UMass Lowell Registrar's Office at 220 Pawtucket, Lowell, MA 01854-5129. Forms may also be scanned and emailed to