April 30, 2020
April 30, 2020
October 10, 2020
The Internet of Things (IoT) is made up of devices connected to the Internet, gathering and sharing data through sensors, actuators, and microcontrollers. It is estimated that there will be more than 21 billion IoT device by 2025. The development of IoT applications requires knowledge and skills in various engineering and computer science fields such as computer networks, embedded systems, sensor technologies, big data, cyber security, etc.
The College of Engineering at California Baptist University (CBU) has been in collaboration with Shanghai Aurora Vocational College (SAVC) on an Internet of Things program since Fall 2016. CBU faculty members and adjunct professors teach nine courses of this IoT program including Introduction to IoT, Dynamic Web Development, Hardware Fundamentals of IoT, Wireless Sensor Networks, etc. Some of the students who earned their associate degree in IoT from SAVC continue to pursue a BS degree in engineering at CBU.
Introduction to the Internet of Things is the first technical course offered by CBU instructors to the IoT program at SAVC. It gives an overview on the key components of IoT systems including design principles, embedded devices, Internet layers and protocols, item identification (e.g. RFID), and IoT ethics. The language barrier limited the ability to engage students effectively. Student engagement substantially increased after we implemented a learn-by-doing approach that focused on labs centered around the Node MCU, a low-cost WiFi-enabled microcontroller board. The lab curriculum was developed in 2016 and has been improved in 2017 and 2019. The lab projects introduce how the Node MCU interfaces with a variety of sensors and actuators including a temperature and humidity sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, LEDs, an LCD screen, a potentiometer, a servo motor, and a power supply, etc. The Arduino IDE is used to program the Node MCU. The lab curriculum began the transitions from “Smart Things” to “Internet of Things” by introducing lab projects connecting the Node MCU to the Internet through WiFi and posting sensor measurements to a web service using the JSON format. The transition to IoT was finalized when RFID concepts were used to retrieve information about “Smart Things” from an Internet-based server. Towards the end of the course, students worked on a final project that integrates sensors, actuators, RFID, and web services. In 2017, more hands-on activities were added using a robotic car equipped with ultrasonic sensors. A recent addition to the lab curriculum in 2019 is to use the Blynk App on smart phones to control sensors and actuators.
Students gained intuitive understanding of IoT systems through the lab projects and became more engaged in learning. Since China has becoming an innovation hub of IoT technologies, we hope that the collaborative IoT program between CBU and SAVC will not only prepare the students at SAVC for their IoT career but also benefit the engineering education at CBU through student design projects that incorporate IoT technologies.
Ni, L. G., & Clement, L. W., & Lee, I. (2020, April), A Learn-by-Doing Approach in Teaching Introduction to the Internet of Things Paper presented at Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE PSW Section Conference, canceled, Davis, California. https://strategy.asee.org/36035
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