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A Two Course Sequence In Computer Engineering Principles For Electrical Engineering Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.149.1 - 12.149.16



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Paper Authors

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Dorin Patru Rochester Institute of Technology

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Daniel Phillips Rochester Institute of Technology


Eric Peskin Rochester Institute of Technology (COE)

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Eric Peskin is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to that, he worked as a Senior Automation Engineer in Logic Technology Development at Intel Corporation. He received the B.S.E. degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 1994, and his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of Utah in 2002. His research interests are in the areas of reconfigurable computing, asynchronous circuit design, nanotechnology, and computer aided design (CAD) / electronic design automation (EDA).
He is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the IEEE Computer Society, the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and the ACM special interest groups (SIGs) on Architecture (SIGARCH) and Design Automation (SIGDA).

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

A Two Course Sequence in Computer Engineering Principles for Electrical Engineering Students


Traditionally computer architecture courses emphasize either a programmer’s or logic designer’s perspective with regard to computer engineering. Recognizing the value of both approaches, a sequence of two mandatory courses has been developed that addresses both of these aspects of computer engineering for the curriculum in Electrical Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The lectures of each course are complemented by weekly lab sessions, in which the students complete assignments of increasing difficulty. In the labs associated with the course which emphasizes the programmer’s perspective, students create assembly language programs which transfer and manipulate data, handle interrupts and use different peripherals available on a commercially available microcontroller. In the final two week lab assignment they create a rudimentary data acquisition and control system. In the labs associated with the course taught from a logic designer’s point of view, students design, simulate and ultimately implement a personal, full custom microcontroller in a reconfigurable logic device. All assignments are hands-on and require physical demonstration of the working code and hardware.

In this paper, the motivation for the creation of this two course sequence is first presented. Then the topics covered by each course are outlined and how these topics meet the intended instructional objectives is shown. A description of the lab assignments, which complement the lectures and further foster the instructional objectives follows. Finally, possible future improvements are indicated.


The introduction of Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) devices in the 1980s made the integration of memory and input / output peripherals along with the central processing unit possible. This resulted in the development of the prototypical microcontroller, also commonly referred to as an integrated microcomputer. Their ubiquitous use in almost all contemporary electronic systems indicates the importance of courses which teach electrical engineering students how to use and/or design microcontrollers. The intelligent use of microcontrollers implies knowledge and understanding of their resources and instruction set, and assembly language level software design. The design of microcontrollers entails computer architecture and logic design, two design domains which have recently been blended by Very Large Scale Integration.

To address these needs, the electrical engineering curriculum at the Rochester Institute of Technology includes two mandatory courses: “Microcomputer Systems - 0301-365” and “Computer Architecture – 0301-347”. Both courses have evolved since they were introduced in the curriculum. “Microcomputer Systems” has today a strong emphasis on the interface between a microcomputer and its peripherals, and its lab content was significantly revised two years ago

Patru, D., & Phillips, D., & Peskin, E. (2007, June), A Two Course Sequence In Computer Engineering Principles For Electrical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2905

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