CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein

First thing that I should say is that I actually didn’t choose this class myself, my advisor did it for me. There are actually quite a number of different professors teaching this class each semester. But I would recommend you to take it with Professor Resisslein if you can because his class is pretty fun in my opinion.

The first thing to know about Professor Reisslein’s 120 class is that he has this non-american accent. His german accent does sound a little out of place at first but you’ll get used to it as the semester progresses.

At a glance


There are two parts of this course, the weekly lecture(s) and the labs which don’t start until the 3rd week (I think?). Just reference the schedule that comes alongside the course outline that he gives out during the first day of class. That schedule will be an essential part of planning out the workload of this course as it gets pretty messy after the semester break.

What you will be learning in this course is (as the course title suggests) Digital Logic. For me, I actually liked the content because I do have a soft spot for hardware. My previous experiences with the Raspberry Pi‘s GPIO pins have proven to be useful in this course. But even if you enter the class with no prior knowledge, you will still be able to finish the class strong.

As for the tools you need in this class, you don’t actually need anything other than a pencil (or a pen maybe?). A calculator is not required as there is no significant calculations involved and the you shouldn’t waste money on the textbook as it is not that important. Most of the practice you need is spread out in the homework and while the homework problems is from the textbook, Professor Reisslein does upload a copy of the homework problems alongside the solutions to Blackboard.

If you really want the textbook, you could always just Google for it or make friends with someone in class because there is bound to be some overly-rajin person who brings the textbook to class. But as I said, the textbook didn’t help me much.

However, if you are really stuck on a concept or a homework problem, I would suggests you to visit the tutors at the tutoring center. You’ll probably end up looking for them when you realize that you are completely lost in the topic of flip flops. I know I did. The tutors can be a great help; but for me, YouTube also helped me a lot in this course. Below are two YouTube channels that I have used throughout the semester

The lectures

Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention during the lectures because the lecture slides are a little confusing and sometimes I just don’t understand what Professor Reisslein is trying to say because the class is quite big and he sometimes tend to focus his voice on the other side of class.

One thing to note about the class is that Professor Reisslein actually splits us into random groups. You will be relying on your group members during the group quizzes, so get to know the strength and weaknesses of your group members. Overall, I found that this random group thing ended up making my experience in this class more memorable. Of course, your experience may vary depending on the type of group members you have. If you are lucky enough, your group members will also help pass the (sometimes) boring lectures and also act as a support group to help you understand the concepts

As for the lectures themselves, they are not as boring as I depict them to be but it can sometimes be a little boring at times. That’s where he injects some of his dry humour into the lecture. You’ll see what I mean when you enter his lectures. Half of the time is spent purely on the theory side of things and the other half is the actual application. Most of the application problems are directly from the homework so pay attention to that.

The transition from the lecture to the actual application problems is where I often get lost. Even if I was paying attention, sometimes he is just asking us to solve these problems without even fully understanding the concept. It’s a little tough at times but I found that sometimes it does help me better understand the concept. Not sure how to explain why but it does help.

The labs

After the third week, there will be lab assignments every week and they come in the form of a software and a physical assignment. The software part can either be done remotely or at the specified lab. It is basically just creating circuit diagrams through a specific software and for the most part it was pretty simple, except for the last one.

The hardware lab in the other hand is far more easier (and more fun) in my opinion compared to the simulation lab. As said before, I had experience previously with the breadboard and simple electronics so the hardware lab is a piece of cake for me. You are allowed to work with others on the hardware lab but I would recommend that you try working on it alone as it will help you get ready for the final project.

The grading for the hardware and simulation lab is pretty straight forward and my advice is to make friends with good lab TA that is willing to check through your answers before submitting it. But even if you end up losing points, there are extra points up for grabs in every lab submission through the reflective grading page.

And finally, it’s the final capstone project. Unlike the software and hardware lab, the final capstone project will be closely linked to the material being taught in class. The project itself was pretty straight forward once you understand what is required. Simulating it and actually building the design can be a little hard but Professor Reisslein will take some time to discuss it in class.

Did I learn anything useful?

Definitely, everything from the binary number system to the flip flops will come in handy in the future. Probably the most useful concept and the hardest concept to fully grasp in this course is the Finite State Machine. At first, I had my doubts about the method but as it turns out, the FSM is actually a good way of designing a hardware or even software program. Think of it as a systematic flow chart.

Is it an easy 100 level course?

For the most part, yes. This is a fairly straight forward 100 level course but there are certain concepts like the binary overflow and registers that are a little hard to understand. Just remember to take advantage of the tutoring center and also the YouTube channels that I listed above. Also, try to visit Professor Reisslein during his office hours as he explains the concepts much better than he does in class.

If I were to graph out the workload of this class, it would look like an exponential graph. The course really picks up after the semester break as the homework problems get a little bit more confusing and the labs get a little bit more harder.


This class has been real fun, Professor Reisslein isn’t the best in teaching but he has his strengths and weaknesses. The class itself builds upon each concept so make sure you understand the fundamentals. As for the grading, I personally think it is a little complex but you shouldn’t worry too much about getting a bad grade during the exams or the labs as there is quite a lot of extra credit being offered throughout the semester.

Speaking of the exams, Professor Reisslein never divulges any details about the exam but in my experience, the assessments are fairly straight forward. Nothing that you have not seen before. Revising for all the exams and quizzes is simply just looking back at the homework that you have done. And take note that while there are solutions to the homework problems, don’t just blindly copy them. Some of the answers are incomplete.

Here are some key takeaways from the class:

  1. Make sure to do the homework
  2. Complete the labs as early as possible
  3. Take advantage of the tutoring center
  4. Make friends in the class to make life easier

Insider talk

My course reviews for Spring 2016

  • FSE 100 with Professor Yinong Chen — An introductory engineering course that revolves around projects. Read this review
  • ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe — The first of two fresman level english courses that is required by ASU. Read this review
  • PHI 101 with Professor Douglas Portmore —  This is my first time learning about philosophy, it’s quite an interesting course I would say. Read this review
  • HST 109 with Professor Jonathan Barth — American history from the start till the end of the civil war. Read this review
  • CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein — The basics of digital logic with both theoretical and practical work. Read this review
  • IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin — More statistical formulas and concepts than you can imagine. Read this review

I would  value your feedback on things that I may have missed in my review(s) and I would gladly update the review to include that information provided that your request is not too much in the future that I forget about the deep details about my experience in that course. Just hit me a comment below and I’ll gladly answer your question.



One thought on “CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein

  1. Pingback: My dilemma of writing articles – ^ dickwyn .

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