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Incorporating Mobile Robots In A Microcomputer Programming Course

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.330.1 - 3.330.9



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Paper Authors

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J.P. Trudeau

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Alan R. Klayton

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A.L. Clark

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Daniel J. Pack

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

Session 1532

Incorporating Mobile Robots in a Microcomputer Programming Course

D.J. Pack, A.R. Klayton, A.L. Clark, and J.P. Trudeau Department of Electrical Engineering United States Air Force Academy USAFA, CO 80840-6236


Most Electrical Engineering undergraduate programs require an assembly language programming course for graduation. Such a course is usually taught using a particular microcomputer or microcontroller. At the Air Force Academy, the Motorola 68HC11 microcontroller is used to teach assembly language programming and to introduce the use of embedded microcontrollers in system design. One of the most common challenges for educators who teach this type of course is covering all desirable hardware and software concepts in a single semester. To help remedy this situation, we recently redesigned the course so each student must complete a single mobile robot project with multiple “subsystem labs” replacing the previously unrelated lab sequence. We believe this more integrated approach improves the course for both educators and students while facilitating the development of a systems design methodology.


Typically, a microcomputer assembly language programming course is a required course in most electrical engineering (EE) curricula. Such a course, however, has often been dreaded by many students, mainly due to the numerous details needed to learn a new programming language. These courses usually use a microprocessor or a microcontroller as a test-bed to program and execute assembly language programs. To increase student understanding, labs are designed to help students practice specific assembly language skills while learning specific functions of the microcontroller or microprocessor. An alternative lab approach to such a course provides students with a single large project which is carefully divided into multiple labs and administered throughout the semester. As we will discuss, such a project can provide students with an integrated overview of the hardware along with opportunities to practice desired programming skills.

In this paper we present a case study of integrating a “large” project with an EE microcomputer programming course, which is required for all EE majors at the United States Air Force Academy. The objectives of the course are to teach: 1) assembly language skills; 2) microcontroller hardware; and 3) microcontroller input/output interfacing skills, i.e., interfacing external devices such as a LCD unit, switches, and sensors.

Trudeau, J., & Klayton, A. R., & Clark, A., & Pack, D. J. (1998, June), Incorporating Mobile Robots In A Microcomputer Programming Course Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7182

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