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Hands On Projects And Exercises To Strengthen Understanding Of Basic Computer Engineering Concepts

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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

New Trends in ECE Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.682.1 - 10.682.9



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Paper Authors

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Joe Stanley

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Daryl Beetner

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Donald Wunsch

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Rohit Dua

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

Hands-On Projects and Exercises to Strengthen Understanding of Basic Computer Engineering Concepts

Rohit Dua, John E. Seiffertt, Brian Blaha, Kapil Gupta, Venkat Satagopan, Joe R. Stanley, Daryl Beetner, and Donald C. Wunsch

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Missouri-Rolla 1870 Miner Circle, Rolla, MO-65409, USA


The Introduction to Computer Engineering course at the University of Missouri-Rolla provides a thorough understanding of basic digital logic analysis and design. The course covers: digital numbering systems, Boolean algebra, function minimization using Karnaugh maps (K-maps), memory elements, and sequential logic design. Students’ grades are determined by their performance on homework assignments, quizzes, and in-class examinations. A laboratory course (optional for all but EE and CpE majors) supplements the lecture by providing experiments that include analysis and design using Mentor Graphics and FPGAs. While the laboratory is a very useful supplement to the lecture, almost half the students taking the lecture are not required to take the laboratory and there is not sufficient time in the laboratory schedule to introduce significant design elements. In Fall 2004, hands-on group projects, for all students, were introduced to the lecture course. The goal was for students to develop a more practical understanding and appreciation of hardware design and to improve motivation. Two projects were introduced that involve design of simple digital systems (based on practical applications), design optimization, and physical realization of the system using logic gates and/or memory elements. Two surveys, conducted during the semester, show the benefit of hands-on projects in gaining experience on basic digital hardware design.


Introduction to Computer Engineering is a core course required to attain a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Computer or Electrical Engineering from University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR). The lecture course requires students to complete homework assignments, quizzes, two-to-three in-class or take home examinations, and a comprehensive final. The lecture course is supplemented by a laboratory where students can work with actual hardware. This laboratory has faced two problems. First, computer and electrical engineering majors are required to take the laboratory course along with the lecture course, but non-majors, such as Computer Science students, are only required to take the lecture. The computer science students constitute approximately one-third to one-half of the students in the lecture course. These students are missing out on many of the hands-on experiences available in the laboratory and their current curriculum does not have room to require the additional laboratory credit. Second, much of the time in the laboratory is spent learning new tools and reinforcing relatively simple concepts

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society of Engineering Education”

Stanley, J., & Beetner, D., & Wunsch, D., & Dua, R. (2005, June), Hands On Projects And Exercises To Strengthen Understanding Of Basic Computer Engineering Concepts Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14397

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