June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Electrical and Computer
13.106.1 - 13.106.22
A Software Package for Enhanced Student-Learning in Real- Time Embedded-Systems Networking Abstract
Today, embedded systems networking is common in manufacturing, automobiles, medical equipment, and home appliances, but few undergraduate engineering and technology curricula teach courses devoted to it. Not having appropriate educational experiences risks a decline in US technical expertise. Various companies have developed commercial software packages for analysis, diagnosis and simulation of real-time embedded-systems networking protocols. However, these commercial software packages are very expensive and complex to be used for undergraduate courses. We have developed a user-friendly and easy-to-use software package for the PIC microcontroller to study the Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol and its use for various real-time applications. The software can be used in an undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering design class. The use of the software allows the students to understand the CAN protocol. The students can also modify different modules of the software based on the hardware setup of their real-time systems, and then do various types of experiments with their hardware setup. The use of our software enhances student-learning of embedded-systems networking. The paper presents a detailed description of our software architecture and its use for various real-time applications.
We are living in a world today in which rapid technological change is occurring faster than even our universities can keep up with. If we look back 50 years ago, we see an automobile industry in which almost all systems are mechanically based. Fast-forward to today, and industry projections are showing that by 2010, 40% of the total cost of a car will be dedicated to electronics and distributed electronic control systems. During this time span, individual manufacturers have developed their own processes and their own proprietary electronic architectures and protocols. Many of these standards did not make it out of their company’s doors, but we finally have a situation where certain protocols are used globally. This global industry standardization did not come about until around 10 years ago. After a decade of preferred usage across Europe, Bosch’s CAN protocol1 finally won widespread acceptance in the US auto industry during the late 1990s. Worldwide usage brings certain advantages with it. Standardization of components drives down manufacturing costs; it also reduces maintenance costs when replacements are easy to obtain. In addition, auto mechanics and repair personnel only have to learn one electronics communication protocol to diagnose and repair faulty systems. In this entire situation, the only weak link is the educational system.
Many schools around the country teach a course in embedded design, but very few2, 3, 4 focus on the networking of embedded systems. With the globalization of our workplace, and jobs moving to other countries, it is important to train US workers on these new technologies to remain competitive with the rest of the world.
The main issue with teaching a course in embedded systems networking is that new software and hardware tools are necessary. Vector Group5 and Dearborn Group6 do produce CAN tools.
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