June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Electrical and Computer
14.19.1 - 14.19.17
A Cost Effective, Modular Hardware Platform for Embedded Systems Design and Development
Embedded systems such as automobiles, mobile phones, appliances, and other consumer products continue to advance along a steep curve of complexity and sophistication. As this trend continues, the learning curve for tomorrows’ engineers grows steeper and the gap between designing embedded systems in industry and teaching embedded systems development at a university widens. Educators are therefore challenged to adapt to advances in embedded systems while maintaining courseware that is broken into simple building blocks capable of maintaining continuity along the growth path. This requires a rich hands-on curriculum that encapsulates modular hardware, software, and courseware that can scale from fundamental concepts to more advanced topics.
This paper introduces a modular demonstration, development and learning hardware platform and an example set of progressive laboratory exercises that help to meet this challenge. The platform includes system building blocks that can be used individually or grouped to build a complete embedded system. The kit includes function-specific hardware modules featuring microcontrollers, serial interfaces, external memories, sensors, wireless communications, and graphical displays with touch interfaces. These hardware modules are complemented with software that abstracts the hardware and provides real-time operating systems, protocol stacks and low-level drivers. The key features of the platform are:
Modular – Function-specific hardware and software modules Affordable – $20-50 hardware modules Portable – Easy development at home or the lab Scalable – Basic building blocks to complex embedded systems Expandable – Standardized hardware interconnect encourages future growth Easy to use – Perfect for students of all levels
In most universities, curriculum for embedded systems is already broken up into various courses that build on each other and grow in complexity. The main objective for this type of curriculum is for the student to build a wide knowledge base for various types of embedded systems and to learn the fundamental building blocks that make up a complete embedded system. This structured education enables the student to be a well-rounded engineer and more attractive asset in industry.
In theory this type of structured curriculum sounds attractive, but the execution proves to be more difficult. The common problem with achieving a consistent embedded systems curriculum from undergraduate to a graduate level program has to do with the many variables. The variables
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