We discuss in the following 10 specialization tracks in embedded systems. These tracks are provided as guidelines only and do not reflect the diverse application areas of embedded systems. Tracks are organized to reflect typical job roles in the industry that our alumni pursue.  They can help our students to better align their elective modules with their chosen career goals. Additionally, these tracks provide interesting research areas for students pursuing doctoral studies after graduation. Each track is briefly described with some technical keywords to help probing for further information. Also, we highlight some track relevant modules taught at each of our partner universities.

Generally, we recommend to our students to acquire advanced knowledge in computer architecture which can be found in modules like Architecture of Digital Systems 1 & 2 (TUK) Advanced Computer Architecture, Embedded Processors (UoS), and Computer Design & Architecture course and project (NTNU). For further information, it's possible at anytime to consult your local EMECS adviser or get support from EMECS Alumni.

Next generation hardware designs are needed to address increasing market demand. These designs are complex with diverse application areas and architecture ranging from general purpose processors to Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC). Hardware designers have to implement these complex designs while satisfying stringent constraints of low power consumption and high performance. Hardware designs are often integrated in complete System-on-Chip (SoC) which are realized on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) or custom integrated circuits.

Technical keywords: VHDL, Verilog, SystemVerilog, FPGA.

Relevant study modules:
TUK: Microelectronic Circuit and System Design 1 & 2, Power-aware embedded systems, Synthesis and Optimization of Microelectronic Systems 1 & 2.
UoS: Integrated Circuit Design, SoC Design Techniques, SoC EDA Principles and Practice, Digital IC design, Digital Systems Design, Digital Systems Synthesis, SOC Design Project.
NTNU: Design of Integrated Circuits, Design of Digital Systems 1 & 2, VLSI Test Methodology.

The complexity of hardware designs and the high correctness required in implementing them make adhoc verification methodologies based on mere simulation inadequate. Qualified verification engineers are needed to address verification challenges systematically. They often mix simulation-based verification with formal verification in a systematic approach based on an advanced methodology like Unified Verification Methodology (UVM).

Technical keywords: VHDL, Verilog, SystemVerilog Assertions, Formal verification, UVM.

Relevant modules:
TUK: Formal Hardware Verification, Verification of Reactive Systems.
UoS: Formal Design of Systems, Digital Systems Synthesis.
NTNU: Design of Digital Systems 1 & 2, VLSI Test Methodology, Modelling and Analysis of Digital Systems.

Whenever there is hardware there should also be software that runs on it. Embedded software engineers have a very diverse set of domains to apply their skills. Many industries including automotive, medical equipments, and defense are in constant hunt for embedded software experts to build their systems. It's often required to realize these embedded systems as real-time systems i.e. to make their interaction with the environment timely predictable.

Technical keywords : Real-time systems, C/C++, Assembly.

Relevant modules:
TUK: Real-time Systems 1 & 2, HW/SW Systems, Parallel Computing, High-Performance Computing on GPGPUs, Fundamentals of Software Engineering.
UoS : Formal Design of Systems, Computer Vision, Automated Software Verification, SOC Design Project.
NTNU : Real-time Programming, Real-time Systems, Energy Efficient Computer Systems, Healthcare Informatics, Embedded System, Industrial and Embedded Computer System Design, Parallel Computing.

Processing audio, video, and/or images is a critical function of virtually every embedded systems. Goals of processing are quite diverse but they usually include some form of pattern recognition, filtering, and/or format transformation.

Technical keywords : Matlab, C/C++, wireless communication, digital signal processing.

Relevant modules:
TUK : Wireless Communication, DSP Algorithms and implementation, Sensor Signal Processing- Radio Communication Networks and Systems, Signal Processing.
UoS : Image Processing, Digital Coding and Transmission, Signal Processing, Advanced Wireless Communications Networks and Systems, Medical Electrical and Electronic Technologies, SOC Design Project.
NTNU : Antenna Engineering, Communication Systems, Digital Signal Processing.

Whether to control a robot arm in an automotive production line, interact with humans, or simply to show-off doing some fancy things like playing football. Robotics is a diverse field of embedded systems where areas like sensors/actuators, signal processing, and artificial intelligence are mixed together in a complete system that is not only capable of processing environment data but also go a step further by learning from its interactions with the environment.

Technical keywords : Real-time systems, C/C++, Assembly, Artificial Intelligence.

Relevant modules :
TUK : Biologically motivated Robot Systems, Autonomous Mobile Robots.
UoS : Advanced Computer Vision, Robotic Systems, Machine Learning, Control System Design.
NTNU : Machine Learning and Case-based Reasoning, Modeling and Control of Robots, Artificial Intelligence Methods, Computer Vision.

A Cyber-Physical System (CPS) is an embedded system consisting of collaborating subsystems with the goal of controlling physical entities. CPS are becoming increasingly important to our societies. They enable optimization of resource usage, e.g. fuel and electricity, by “smarter” control. CPS are characterized by their tight interaction with their controlled physical environment. They are always in a loop of sensing data, processing, and actuating physical elements to satisfy certain goals.

Technical keywords : sensors/actuators, control systems, Matlab.

Relevant modules:
TUK: Robot and Motion Control, Virtual Prototyping and HW/SW Co-Design, HW/SW Systems, Computer-Aided Engineering in Control Design.
UoS: Instrumentation and Sensors. Software Modelling Tools and Techniques for Critical Systems, Intelligent Agents, MEMS Sensors and Actuators, Introduction to MEMS.
NTNU: MEMS-design, MEMS Technology and Design, Modelling Theory for System on Chip and Embedded Systems, Control Systems.

We usually work with digital signals consisting for bits and bytes. However, the world is “analogue” and our embedded systems have to interface with the analogue world in order to communicate. Analogue/Mixed Signal engineers implement this critical piece of hardware as high performance Intellectual Properties (IP) modules. These IPs get integrate in many embedded systems to enable them to communicate with their environment. Our mobile phones are an excellent example of complete System-on-Chips (SoC) that heavily rely on analogue/mixed signal IPs to communicate.

Technical keywords : Physical Circuit Layout, SoC, RF Transceivers.

Relevant modules:
TUK : Fabrication Methods and Design of Integrated Sensor Systems, Technology and Design of Integrated Mixed Signal Circuits and Systems.
UoS: Integrated Circuit Design, SoC Design Techniques, SoC EDA Principles & Practice, Integrated RF Transceiver Design, Analogue and Mixed Signal CMOS Design.
NTNU: Analogue CMOS 1&2, Analogue and Mixed Design Specialization Course & Project.

The design of modern embedded systems is challenged by their ever increasing complexity and shorter Time-To-Market (TTM). To this end, there is a constant need to start the design process from higher levels of abstraction. That allows design engineers to boost their productivity while maintaining required Quality of Results (QoR). SLD methodologies and techniques are there to fill this gap with many potential solutions. For example, software in model-based design methods, e.g. Matlab/Simulink ®, can be developed starting from abstract models rather than actual C/C++ implementation code. Also, hardware modules can be designed in C++ or SystemC and later synthesized to gate-netlists rather than developed directly at Register-Transfer Level in Verilog or VHDL.

Technical keywords: SystemC, high-level synthesis, model-based design, virtual prototyping.

Relevant modules:
TUK:Virtual Prototyping and HW/SW Co-Design, HW/SW Systems.
UoS : Automated Software Verification, Automated Code Generation, Software Modelling Tools and Techniques for Critical Systems.
NTNU : Modelling Theory for System on Chip and Embedded Systems.

Certain application domains of embedded systems are characterize by their safety critical nature. Example of safety critical systems include nuclear plant control, aeronautics, and transportation. Engineers in these domains need specialized expertise to follow rigorous development methodologies. Formal methods are essential in this domain in order to systematically develop such systems and mathematically proof that they are correct.

Technical keywords : formal specification, formal verification, real time systems.

Relevant modules :
TUK : Safety and Reliability of Embedded Systems, HW/SW Systems, Real time systems 1 & 2.
UoS : Formal Verification of Systems, Safety Critical Systems, Software Modelling Tools and Techniques for Critical Systems, Automated Software Verification.
NTNU : Modelling Theory for System on Chip and Embedded Systems.

Modern manufacturing processes are highly automated and rely heavily on computer-based control systems. Thus, manufacturing is one of the prime application areas of embedded systems. We provide general background on the theory and practice of control systems and offer advanced study modules in the application of embedded system technology in industrial control.

Technical keywords : sensors/actuators, control systems, Matlab®.

Relevant modules:
TUK : Robot and Motion Control, Computer-Aided Engineering in Control Design
UoS : Instrumentation and Sensors, Control System Design, Applied Control Systems.
NTNU : Control Systems, Optimization and Control.