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Embedded Design In A Sophomore Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Embedded System Design

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.480.1 - 13.480.7



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Paper Authors


Daren Wilcox Southern Polytechnic State University

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1100 South Marietta Parkway
Marietta, Georgia 30060-2896, USA
+1 678-915-7269

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Steve Wilson Southern Polytechnic State University

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1100 South Marietta Parkway
Marietta, Georgia 30060-2896, USA
+1 678-915-7246

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Gerd Wöstenkühler

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(University of Applied Studies and Research)
Friedrichstraße 57-59
D-38855 Wernigerode, Germany
+49 3943 659-322

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

Embedded Design in a Sophomore Course


Recently in academia, a push has emerged to include engineering design early in a student’s course sequence. The desired result is to captivate the student’s interest in engineering before the student has had a chance to change majors. Otherwise, the student would not experience the design process until the capstone courses in the senior year. In this paper, an embedded design project in a sophomore course is presented. The design project is based on the USB Toolstick from Silicon Laboratories. The USB Toolstick is an 8051 series microcontroller that is self contained, economical, and very student friendly. What follows is a discussion of the sophomore course, an overview of the USB Toolstick, and examples of embedded design based on the Toolstick.

1. Introduction

The sophomore course referred to in this paper is the second course of the digital design sequence in the electrical engineering technology program at Southern Polytechnic State University. Southern Polytechnic State University was founded in 1948 as a unit of the Georgia Institute of Technology at the request of the Georgia Business and Industry Association 1. In 1949 it was named Southern Technical Institute. In 1970, it separated from Georgia Tech while becoming one of the first colleges to offer the bachelor of engineering technology degree. In 1987 it became the Southern College of Technology. In 1996 it reached university status. Throughout its history, Southern Poly has responded to the applied engineering and technology requirements of the state and region. Having graduates that not only can design, but see the design to implementation has been the core pedagogy of the institute since its inception. In virtually every course, an element of design is required of the student. In the second course of the digital design sequence, students are required to complete three design projects.

The sophomore in the second digital design course is taught digital design through three projects. The first project currently uses discrete digital ICs and simple programmable logic devices (SPLD). The project is usually designing a state machine system such as a traffic light with additional features. Perhaps the traffic light has turn lanes that monitor the number of vehicles waiting to turn. Or perhaps the traffic light is situated near a railroad crossing. Or perhaps the traffic light is located on a secured installation such as an air base that might need to deploy security measures such as tire spikes. The design is limited to discrete components and SPLDs thereby forcing the student to learn components of design that cannot be taught in class. Critical to the design process is learning how to interface the devices. All electrical specifications must be taken into consideration in interconnecting the discrete devices. Then, if the design does not meet requirements or malfunctions, the student learns to trouble shoot and verify logic. The entire process requires more than a couple of weeks so students learn project management skills. After the completion date, the students learn documentation skills and the value of having started the documentation early in the design. The first project is weighted so that hardware design and implementation is worth just as much as the resulting documentation. In this way, failure to meet all design objectives does not result in project failure. Quite often, it is that the failures are more important than the successes.

The second project is usually an extension of the first design but using more advanced digital devices such as complex programmable logic devices (CPLD). The advanced devices allows for more digital

Wilcox, D., & Wilson, S., & Wöstenkühler, G. (2008, June), Embedded Design In A Sophomore Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4441

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