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From LEGO to Arduino: Enhancement of ECE Freshman Design with Practical Applications

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Issues in ECE Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Carlotta A. Berry Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Carlotta A. Berry is an associate professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She is the director of the multidisciplinary minor in robotics and co-director of the Rose building undergraduate diversity scholarship and professional development program. She has been the President of the Technical Editor Board for the ASEE Computers in Education Journal since 2012. She is a member of ASEE, IEEE, NSBE, and Eta Kappa Nu.

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Daniel Chang Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Christopher Miller Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Chris is an Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. His interests include engineering education, embedded systems, and ubiquitous computing.

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This paper will describe the transition of a highly successful freshman electrical and computer engineering design course in order to improve student learning and mastery. The primary enhancement was to change the hardware platform for the design project from LEGO(R) MINDSTORMS(R) to Arduino microcontrollers. There were several motivations for this change including creating a stronger emphasis on electrical and computer engineering concepts, improving programming and circuit building skills, and increasing the course technical rigor. The objectives of this course are to introduce students to electrical and computer engineering as well as the engineering design process, teamwork skills, professional development, and technical documentation through a quarter-long design project. A primary focus during the course is also for the students to have fun while learning these things. This year the course was converted to include not just a quarter-long design project but also mini-projects implemented with the Arduino-based SparkFun Inventor Kit. The sample projects in the kit touch upon a variety of ECE topics and help the students create connections with their chosen discipline. The kit is also a great tool for improving their technical skill with respect to hardware and software. This paper will contrast and compare this course before and after the change to microcontrollers in order to verify that the new learning objectives were met and the course was indeed improved. The paper will also review lessons learned in order to improve future iterations of the course.

Berry, C. A., & Chang, D., & Miller, C. (2016, June), From LEGO to Arduino: Enhancement of ECE Freshman Design with Practical Applications Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26972

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