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A Multiple-Access Message-Exchange Course Project for a Networking Course in a BS Computer Engineering Program

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovations in Computer Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.76.1 - 24.76.14

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Paper Authors


Edward W. Chandler P.E. Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Chandler is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin. He previously was a Member of Technical Staff at L-3 Communications and currently performs systems engineering consulting in the area of communications for DISA (U.S. DoD). He is a Senior Member of the IEEE, and teaches courses in circuits, signals, communication systems, and networking.

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William Barnekow Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Prof. William Barnekow is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Milwaukee
School of Engineering. He earned the M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of California – Berkeley. His primary areas of interest are in embedded microcomputer-based systems, digital circuits and systems, advanced digital design using VHDL, senior capstone design projects in software and computer engineering, and computer networks.

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A Multiple-Access Message-Exchange Course Project for a Networking Course in a BS Computer Engineering ProgramSince the 2009-10 academic year, the seniors in the computer engineering program at [institutionname] have been required to complete two networking courses, [course-name for 1st course] and[course-name for 2nd course]. Each carries three credits on the quarter system and each includesa project-based laboratory. The first of these two courses concentrates on the physical and datalink layers of communication networks, and the second concentrates more on higher layerprotocols, with emphasis on those used in Internet applications. The first course includesa course project in which student teams each design and implement a network node or terminalthat is expected to interoperate with nodes implemented by other teams.For the course project in the first course, the network medium has a bus topology, and bothelectrical busses and wireless optical media have been used for node-to-node connectivity indifferent years of the course offerings. The stated purpose of the network is to allow theexchange of short text messages between connected nodes. The students implement lower layernetwork protocols that are covered in the lecture portion of the course, including carrier-sensetype channel monitoring, collision detection, random wait times for retransmissions, message-packet error detection, and a specific signal-coding technique such as Manchester encoding,which varies from year to year. An interoperability standard is used by the teams. In some yearsthe standard has been developed by the students, and in other years it has been defined by thefaculty members teaching the course. Student teams are required to define the test proceduresfor verifying different parts of the required network operations, which are developedincrementally throughout the course.This paper presents an overview of the microcomputer-based platform that has been used for the[course-name for 1st course] course project, and several specifics on the signaling techniquesthat have been used in different years of the course offerings. The paper also discusses thedegree to which course project success was achieved based on assessments including projectgrades and student surveys, the various problems that were encountered, and the plannedchanges for future offerings of the course.

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