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Effectiveness of Using MyFPGA Platform for Teaching Digital Logic

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

New ECE Laboratories

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors

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Junfei Li P.E. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Cara Li


Jae Sok Son University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Dr. Son is an associate professor at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His research interests include radar signal processing, and machine learning.

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Weidong Kuang University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Dr. Weidong Kuang received a Ph.D degree in Electrical Engineering at University of Central Florida in 2003. He has be with University of Texas Rio Grande Valley since 2004 starting as an assistant professor, up to an associate professor now. His research interests include VLSI design, machine learning, and digital signal processing.

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Edgar Gil University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Mr. Edgar Gil received a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas-Pan American in 2013. He has been serving as a Lecturer in Electrical Engineering for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley since 2015.

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Accompanying electric circuits and computer programming, digital logic is deemed one of the most essential parts of any Electrical and Computer Engineering curriculum, so student success in the course is critical. Furthermore, research shows that the academic performance of students is heavily dependent upon student engagement, which is believed to increase with classroom strategies such as flipped-classrooms, cooperative learning, project-based learning, and virtual labs. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is a Hispanic serving institution with distributive campuses, where many of the students work part-time. With consideration of the special needs of our students and the latest developments in engineering education, this study focuses on our recent experience of teaching digital logical using MyFPGA, online FPGA platform. We first introduce the MyFPGA platform in this paper. Developed by one of the authors of this paper, this web-based design features I/O interfacing circuits with an Intel FPGA hardware board as well as API web services with the Intel Quartus II design software. The platform provides 24/7 real-time hardware design experience at students’ fingertips, requiring only a web browser and internet access. It exposes the students to a complete engineering design cycle that includes problem specification, block diagram design, HDL source code design, simulation and hardware verification, trouble shooting and evaluation, and reporting. We consider different cases of the platform usage in two digital logic courses. To evaluate the effectiveness of the student learning experience, data is collected using outcome assessments, student feedback and self-evaluations, instructor observations, and comparative studies. Preliminary results confirmed the effectiveness of the online digital design platform. We have also identified a few pitfalls, such as instructors’ initial reluctance in adopting the platform and students’ first perception of the platform as a pure simulation tool. Based on the studies, recommendations are made to identify the best practices in the utilization of the platform to better serve Electrical and Computer Engineering majors and secondary school students interested in the general STEM fields.

Li, J., & Li, C., & Son, J. S., & Kuang, W., & Gil, E. (2020, June), Effectiveness of Using MyFPGA Platform for Teaching Digital Logic Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34505

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