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Embedded System Emphasis In An Introductory Microprocessor Course

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.525.1 - 10.525.7



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Paper Authors

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Robert Reese

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

Embedded System Emphasis in an Introductory Microprocessor Course

Robert B. Reese

Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Mississippi State University


In Fall 2003 within the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at Mississippi State University, the introductory microprocessors course was shifted from a traditional approach using X86 assembly language and a software-only lab to a microcontroller emphasis using the PIC18F242 with a mixed software/hardware-based lab experience. This was done to better prepare our computer engineering and electrical engineering majors for our senior project course, which usually includes a microcontroller as a component. Assembly language labs are specified as C programs, with the students acting as human compilers for PIC18 implementation. This removes the mystery of the C to assembly language link, and prepares the students for the hardware labs that are implemented entirely in C. The hardware labs cover the onboard peripherals of the PIC18F242 such as the timer subsystem, I2C interface, and analog-to-digital converter, as well as off-chip interfacing to devices such as a serial EEPROM, an I2C digital-to-analog converter, and an infrared receiver. The challenges in this course design have included finding the correct mix of assembly language/hardware lab topics, a textbook with this particular topic coverage, lab exercise development, and suitably trained teaching assistants for the lab experience. Student response to the new course material has been positive, and senior project quality has improved as students no longer struggle with including a microcontroller component in their designs.


Beginning Fall 2003, the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at Mississippi State University shifted its introductory microprocessor course from a traditional assembly language orientation (X86-based) to one that emphasizes embedded system concepts and hardware/software prototyping skills [1]. The course is required for computer science (CS), electrical engineering (EE), computer engineering (CPE), and software engineering (SWE) majors and is 4 credit hours (3 lecture, 1 lab). The course prerequisites are digital logic design and introductory computer programming in either C or C++. This also coincided with changes to both our CPE and EE curriculums. Figure 1 summarizes these curriculum changes relative to the Microprocessor I course that is the subject of this paper. In addition to the Microprocessors I content change, the VLSI I

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Reese, R. (2005, June), Embedded System Emphasis In An Introductory Microprocessor Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15572

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