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It Blinked! Empowering Students with an Improved Microprocessors Course

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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

ECE Curriculum Improvement

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.866.1 - 25.866.8



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Paper Authors

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Arlen Planting Boise State University

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Sin Ming Loo Boise State University

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It Blinked! Empowering Students with an Improved Microprocessors Course AbstractThe junior microprocessors course at Boise State University was updated in 2007 by adopting asoft-core processor and adding the C programming language to teach the basics ofmicroprocessors and peripheral interfacing techniques. The introduction of soft-core processorswas not the focus of the course, but their usage provides an effective, flexible platform forteaching microprocessor concepts with both the assembly and C languages. Though the courseupdate was begun with a well-defined set of objectives, not all of these goals were immediatelyachieved. The goals have eventually been accomplished through a process of continualimprovements over the past 5 years, and the results are evident in a better grade distribution,increased student enthusiasm, and subsequent student successes. This paper discusses theimprovement since our initial implementation [1,2]. The key improvements include eliminatingthose software layers that hide the underlying hardware and prevent direct interaction with theprocessor, making usage of the soft-core processor transparent, so the students perceive thedevelopment board as a discrete microprocessor, developing an in-house course referencetailored to the desired course objectives, and optimizing the concept presentation sequence.[1] Arlen Planting, Sin Ming Loo, “Synergies Of Teaching Assembly And C In A JuniorMicroprocessors Course,” 2009 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.[2] Arlen Planting and S. Ming Loo, “On the Use of a Soft-Core Processor in JuniorMicroprocessors Course,” 2008 ASEE Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, June 22-25, 2008.

Planting, A., & Loo, S. M. (2012, June), It Blinked! Empowering Students with an Improved Microprocessors Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21623

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