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A Long-Term Study of Software Product and Process Metrics in an Embedded Systems Design Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technical Session 2: Embedded Systems

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


J.W. Bruce Tennessee Technological University

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J.W. Bruce is with the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee USA

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Ryan A. Taylor University of Alabama Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Taylor received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Mississippi State University in 2018. He is currently an assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His research interests revolve around remote sensing and engineering education.

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This “complete research” paper will describe a 12-year study of the software development metrics collected from students in an embedded systems design course.

The authors developed and taught a senior-level course in embedded systems design for the last 15 years. The course features a development process that emulates industry wherein students work in small design teams to design, fabricate, and test a product to a design specification using a variety of hardware peripherals and a multitasking operating system. Student progress is monitored by a series design milestones during the semester in which the students populate their PCB, bootstrap the processor, build the operating system, interface with hardware components, develop new operating system services, write and test application code, and interconnect with other students’ designs. Design milestones are progressive in that each subsequent design milestone is predicated on the successful completion of previous milestones. Furthermore, the student design process includes formalized hardware and software design inspections roughly based on IEEE Standard 1028. Design inspections are held before prototyping begins and strives to curtail the far too common cycle of develop, test, change, and test again. The design inspections serve as a convenient time for a number of software product and process measures described in IEEE Standard 982 to be collected. The quantitative product and process measures document the nature, origin, and other vital characteristics of each design defect and are frequently used in industry. Furthermore, data obtained in design reviews can be used to improve the instruction quality, track the maturity of the student design skills, and prompt relevant classroom discussions. Examples of using the software product metrics in design process monitoring, analysis, and estimation are given. Software development process and software quality metrics collected over the twelve-year period indicate that student output and productivity are within ranges reported by industry studies for professional programmers.

Bruce, J., & Taylor, R. A. (2019, June), A Long-Term Study of Software Product and Process Metrics in an Embedded Systems Design Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31967

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