Asee peer logo

Computer Architecture Design Project Using Actual Air Traffic Control Specifications

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.284.1 - 6.284.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Joe Hartman

Download Paper |

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

Session 3232

Computer Architecture Design Project using Actual Air Traffic Control Specifications

Joe Hartman Boise State University


Our computer architecture course includes the design of a system to solve a real world problem.

The system requirements and evaluation criteria are provided in a Request for Proposal (RFP). The class is divided into teams of four with equal numbers of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science majors. The problem chosen is to design a specialized, redundant computer to control individual messages sent to commercial aircraft via the radio frequency transponder link to the enroute aircraft in the United States.

Since the actual design involved a team of 175 engineers (managed by the author, when he was in the industry), it would be impractical for a team to do the detailed design. However, it is possible to do a top-level system design in response to a RFP. The RFP included specifications and costs for potential components such as computers, voting circuits, buses, and memory units. The teams are responsible for proposing a system block diagram, performing a reliability analysis, and calculating the projected cost.

The evaluation of the student proposals is similar to actual government evaluations of proposals - 40 % on cost, 50% on technical merit, and 10% on reliability achieved beyond the specified minimum.

ΠThe project provides training in the following areas:

ΠSystem Design

ΠRedundancy / Reliability Techniques

ΠCost -Design tradeoffs

ΠTeam Projects Oral and Written Presentation Skills

These areas are required for a high percentage of engineering positions, but often overlooked in many undergraduate engineering curricula.

Many of the student proposals submitted were very similar to the actual design. The benefits of a design problem based on an RFP response to an actual problem will be described.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @ 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Hartman, J. (2001, June), Computer Architecture Design Project Using Actual Air Traffic Control Specifications Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015