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Integrating Electric Vehicles into Software Engineering Project-based Education

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Software Engineering Topics

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.796.1 - 25.796.20



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Paper Authors


James N. Long Oregon Institute of Technology

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James Long is a professor of computer systems engineering technology at Oregon Institute of Technology. His primary teaching and research interests are real-time embedded systems, control theory and implementation, computer networks, and operating systems. He has 12 years of teaching experience in higher education and industry, and 25 years of experience as a software engineer in flight test systems, telephony and high speed networking, Doppler RADAR data acquisition and control, and medical imaging systems. Long is actively involved in the Oregon Renewable Energy Center (OREC) in process, modeling, and controls as PI and Co-PI in three research grants awarded by Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies (Oregon BEST) and Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC). Long is an advocate for project-based learning models, bringing students into real-world problem solving situations bridging higher education and industry involvement in a relationship beneficial to both.

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Integrating Electric Vehicles into Software Engineering Project Based EducationAbstractVehicle Systems are becoming increasingly dependent on microcontrollers and integration ofcomputer systems. The average car currently uses between 30 and 45 microcontroller basedelectronic control units (ECU)i. Projections show number of microcontrollers increasing togreater than 70 by 2020. As the number of microcontrollers increases, so does the complexity ofthe microcontroller, transitioning from 8 bit to 16 bit, and then from 16 bit to 32 bit. The multiplemicroprocessor supported subsystems also require increasingly complex communicationinfrastructure. Automotive computing is trending toward vehicle personalization, smartfreeways, and higher efficiency standardsii. This increase in raw computing power coupled withhigher levels of software based logic abstraction is moving vehicle borne computer systems intothe realm of software engineering. Software engineering in the automotive industry provides astrong platform for student exploration.One key hurdle for integration of automobiles into a software engineering curriculum is that ofaccess. Vehicles based on classic internal combustion engine power sources require speciallaboratory space, have harmful emissions to deal with and are hard to keep clean. In addition tospace issues, it is difficult to build bench test systems if the power plant is an internal combustionengine. Electric vehicles (EVs), on the other hand, provide a unique opportunity as a platform forsoftware engineering systems. EV mechanical systems can be easily scaled down to create smallversions of vehicle operational systems. With the EV as a software systems deploymentplatform, several aspects of vehicle based software can be developed as software engineeringprojects, with the ultimate end result being a “drivable” software system.This paper looks at the use of EV technology as a platform for a software engineering projectsinvolving student teams. Different aspects of vehicle systems and application to softwareengineering projects will be discussed. The use of an EV platform in a three term project will beexplained describing the different software systems involved, how the project was supported,construction of bench test systems, and final deployment result. Student involvement and successin the project will be presented.i “Automotive Technology: Greener Vehicles, Changing Skills – Electronics, Software, and Controls Report”, Centerfor Automotive Research, May 2011 ( “Automotive Technology: Greener Vehicles, Changing Skills – Electronics, Software, and Controls Report”, Centerfor Automotive Research, May 2011

Long, J. N. (2012, June), Integrating Electric Vehicles into Software Engineering Project-based Education Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21553

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