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Design Oriented Course In Microprocessor Based Controls

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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

Teams and Teamwork in Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.463.1 - 12.463.12



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Paper Authors


Lifford McLauchlan Texas A&M University-Kingsville

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Dr. Lifford McLauchlan completed his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University, College Station. After spending time in industry, he has returned
to academia. He is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University - Kingsville in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. His main research interests include controls, robotics, education, adaptive systems, intelligent systems, signal and image processing, and watermarking.

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

Design Oriented Course in Microprocessor Based Controls


Previously, the microprocessor based control class at Texas A&M University - Kingsville has been taught using lecture based class material and microprocessor simulators to illustrate microprocessor operations and control system issues to students. “However, students learn more and get more engaged in a project oriented learning environment.”16 For this reason the course has been completely restructured to include a practical design project as opposed to only simulations that will enable the students to directly apply the knowledge that they have gained from the course. This experience “will enable the students to gain a greater understanding of the material given a project that will engage them in the design activity.”16 The course has been designated a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) course by Texas A&M University – Kingsville due to its restructured format including more student engagement.

In this restructured course, the sensors and controls were developed by four design teams for a small six-legged robot. The student teams assessed the problem and developed one or more solutions. The class used an industry approach to the design. Each team was lead by a team leader. These lead personnel, students, in turn, were responsible to the overall project manager, another student in the class. The students together chose the best design alternative under the constraints, such as scheduling, power, space, costs, and available resources. Each team designed and tested one or more subsystems. These systems were next integrated into the full system. The design teams, thus, gained a better understanding of practical design considerations and integration as well as project management. The students tested the functional ability of the robot in the laboratory after subsystem integration.

The success of the hands-on practical design approach in the microprocessor based control class is clearly demonstrated by student satisfaction, presentations, reports, and overall achievement in the course. The new redesigned course allowed more realistic practical industry based design concepts to be adopted together with more active student engagement.


Until recently the microprocessor based control class at Texas A&M University – Kingsville has been taught using lecture based class material and microprocessor simulators to demonstrate as well as to allow refinement of microprocessor operations and control system issues to students. This inherently leads to problems for the students relating the material to real systems and applications. To alleviate this issue, the course was completely restructured to incorporate a more cooperative and collaborative active problem based learning environment. New robotic vehicles and arms were purchased so that students could collaboratively and cooperatively develop, test, and document real systems and issues.

Much research has been done regarding active and problem based learning (PBL).1-6 Prince states that “active learning is generally defined as any instructional method that engages students in the learning process.”1 Prince further defines three other learning methods which are

McLauchlan, L. (2007, June), Design Oriented Course In Microprocessor Based Controls Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2902

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