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Extensive Use Of Advanced Fpga Technology In Digital Design Education

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Design in the ECE Curriculum

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

13.601.1 - 13.601.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/4201

Download Count

46

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Paper Authors

biography

Mihaela Radu Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Mihaela Elena Radu received the M. Eng. degree in electronics and telecommunications engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in 1985, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, in 2000.
From 1991 to 2003 she was with the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Electronics and Telecommunications, Applied Electronics Department. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, IN, teaching in the areas of digital and fault tolerant systems. Her current research interests include fault tolerance and reliability of electronic systems, FPGA design, and new educational methods to teach digital systems design.

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Clint Cole Washington State University, Pullman

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Clint Cole received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science (1987) and Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering (2000), both from Washington State University. From 1988 to 1992, Mr. Cole was a Design and Research Engineer with Hewlett-Packard and Physio-Control, and in 1992 he co-founded Heartstream, a medical device company subsequently purchased by Philips Medical. Mr. Cole joined the WSU faculty in 1998 as an instructor, and in 2000 co-founded Digilent, now the world’s leading supplier of programmable logic boards for educational settings.

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Mircea Alexandru Dabacan Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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Mircea Alexandru Dabacan received the M. Eng. degree in electronics and telecommunications engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in 1984, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, in 1998.
From 1991 he is with the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Applied Electronics, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, teaching in the areas of digital and data acquisition systems. His current research interests include data acquisition systems, FPGA design, and new educational methods to teach digital systems design.

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Shannon Sexton Rose Hulman Institute of Technology

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Shannon Sexton received her B.S. from Ball State University in 2001 and
her M.A. degree in Experimental Psychology from Indiana State University in 2003. She has completed 59 hours toward her PhD in Social Psychology from Northern Illinois University. She currently works as Director of Assessment at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where she assists faculty in planning, conducting, and analyzing assessment projects and provides faculty with professional development opportunities in the area of assessment.

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

Extensive Use of Advanced FPGA Technology in Digital Design Education

Abstract

The design tools, methods, and technologies used in industry to design digital hardware evolve quickly and continuously. Since the inception of wide-spread CAD tool use to define digital circuits around 40 years ago, revolutionary tool changes have occurred every 5 to 10 years. Although many of the foundational concepts are relatively unchanged, educational programs must nevertheless keep pace with technologies in common use in order to produce graduates who are competitive in the marketplace.

A study conducted at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology measures changes in student performance when all students have unlimited access to state of the art design tools and hardware systems. Data are collected from surveys, exams, and course assignments such as project and lab reports. Quantitative data are analyzed by comparison to historical data gathered from student groups that did not have unlimited access to hardware systems, and qualitative data are used to determine the subjective quality of each student’s experience. Specific outcomes include: assessing whether the overall learning process was improved; whether students have a better knowledge of modern technologies and design methods; whether their comprehension of founding concepts has improved or faltered.

Introduction

The design tools, methods, and technologies used in industry to design digital hardware to evolve quickly and continuously. Revolutionary tool changes occur every 5 to 10 years, and educational programs must keep pace with technologies in common use in order to produce graduates who are competitive in the marketplace. Today, although roughly 60% of University-based educational programs in the United States use some form of programmable logic devices and associated CAD tools, many programs use them only in more advanced or project-based courses. Further, the vast majority of undergraduate programs that use programmable logic technologies provide only limited access to these technologies in 2 or 3 hour weekly lab sessions. During these lab sessions, students have to master new concepts previously taught in theoretical lectures, use laboratory equipment to build experiments, develop software and hardware debugging skills and learn how use complex CAD tools. The limitation of this traditional approach is the fact that 2 or 3 hours of lab sessions prove insufficient to meet all the lab objectives. Consequently, students do not develop the right skills required by industry.

A new approach, where every student owns his or her own programmable hardware system and CAD tool suite, is now feasible due to decreased costs. Programmable logic systems capable of hosting circuits that range in complexity from simple logic circuits to complete 32-bit microcomputer systems can be purchased for less than $100, and required CAD tools are free. A study currently underway at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, is attempting to measure the effect on student learning when students own their own programmable hardware system, and have unrestricted access to programmable technologies.

Radu, M., & Cole, C., & Dabacan, M. A., & Sexton, S. (2008, June), Extensive Use Of Advanced Fpga Technology In Digital Design Education Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4201

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