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Curricular Review And Adoption Of A Sophomore Level Microprocessor – Embedded Controller Sequence

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Electrical & Computer Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.364.1 - 9.364.7



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Paper Authors

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John Adams

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Vance Poteat

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Session #1532

Curricular Review and Adoption of a Sophomore Level Microprocessor- Embedded Controller Sequence Vance E. Poteat, John G. Adams Merrimack College


This paper describes curricular reviews that took place at Merrimack College during 2002, and the two-course sequence in the sophomore year created to address observed areas of concern. The Merrimack ECE Program is faced with unique challenges in that it is the only US undergraduate only program in a Catholic College. As part of the ECE department’s Continuous Program Improvement mandated by ABET 2000, two curricular reviews took place in 2002: an internal review and an external Advisory Board review. Both reviews found a need for more hands-on lab work early in the curriculum, for more ECE courses in the first two years, and to eliminate a course in Statics. An upgraded curriculum was created, addressing these needs. The department’s senior level course in microprocessors was reworked and became a fall, sophomore year class, and the Statics class was replaced with a spring, sophomore year Embedded Controller class including a strong lab component. Two more core ECE courses are now taken during the first two years, and significant hands-on experience is obtained in the Embedded Controller class. The Embedded Controller lab was created at low cost, using a freeware compiler and low-cost programming boards. This new sophomore sequence was presented at a meeting of the Advisory Board, which includes representatives from Lucent, Raytheon, and Analogic Devices among others, and was greeted enthusiastically as being aligned with industry needs. The first run of the Embedded Controller class was in spring of 2003, and received good reviews from students. Further advantages of the new sequence include: better preparation for possible co-op work in the junior year, more options in the Senior Design Project, ability to better understand routers and switches presented in Data Networking, and ability to take part in the measurement/control portion of departmental Power Quality and Energy Conservation research.

Curricular review at Merrimack College

The Merrimack College ECE department is unique in that it is the only ECE department in an undergraduate only Catholic College in the US: this presents the challenge that resources can be limited, and the opportunity that new ideas can be tried out without a lot of red tape. With this challenge and opportunity, the ECE department undertook curricular review as part of it’s ABET mandated process of Continuous Program Improvement. A thorough review of the curriculum had not taken place since the early 1990s, leaving much room for change. Two curricular reviews took place: an internal review during the summer of 2002, and an external review in October 2002.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Adams, J., & Poteat, V. (2004, June), Curricular Review And Adoption Of A Sophomore Level Microprocessor – Embedded Controller Sequence Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12877

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