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A Custom Microcontroller System Used As A Platform For Learning In Ece

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ECE Education and Engineering Mathematics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.32.1 - 9.32.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Donald Heer

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Custom Microcontroller System used as a platform for learning in ECE

Adriaan Smit, Donald Heer, Roger Traylor, Terri S. Fiez

Abstract: TekBots™ is a program that was started at Oregon State University in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to develop Platforms for Learning™. The program is designed to assist, re-enforce and accelerate the learning process by integrating knowledge across many different courses. For each course the TekBot platform is used to closely tie the course material to ‘real’ engineering hardware. With these hands on materials, the students can attach a real meaning to many of the seemingly ambiguous topics learned in lecture. The TekBots platform is composed of many different sub-platforms that interact with each other to create working systems. The AVR microcontroller sub-platform consists of an embedded 8-bit microcontroller with features including; a liquid crystal display (LCD), analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), pulse width modulation (PWM), infrared (IR) communications, and a serial port. This powerful sub-platform is introduced during the junior level Computer Architecture and Assembly Language Programming class, taken by electrical and computer engineering students. The AVR sub-platform is reused in later classes as a building block to bigger systems. Examples of this are Signals and Systems where the AVR becomes a simple digital signal processor, microcomputer design using the AVR as the core of a student built system, and VLSI Design where the students interface a FPGA coprocessor to the AVR.

Introduction Teaching design and innovation to students is possibly one of the most critical challenges facing engineering education in the future [3, 4, and 5]. Faculty are continually being asked to do more in less time, while at the same time the prohibitive costs of ‘real’ lab experiences cause many institutions to remove physical labs from courses. Even where physical labs remain, the labs are doctored to use “pretty” or “fixed” numbers and experiments hiding the real design work from students. A solution developed at Oregon State University is Platforms for Learning™. TekBots™, a platform for learning created for electrical and computer engineering students, is designed to assist teaching many practical engineering skills that may often be left uncovered; innovation, design, knowledge integration, and the ‘real’ problems of ‘real’ systems. With these hands on materials the students can attach a real meaning to many of the seemingly ambiguous topics presented in lecture. In the following section the paper will present a platform for learning as it has been developed at Oregon State University. TekBots and the AVR sub-platform are then presented with in the scope of the first course they are used in the Computer Architecture and Assembly Programming course. The paper concludes with how the AVR sub- platform is to be extended through the curriculum and future work.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Heer, D. (2004, June), A Custom Microcontroller System Used As A Platform For Learning In Ece Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13005

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