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Laboratory Enhancements For Improving Embedded Systems Education

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Electrical Engineering Technology Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.998.1 - 12.998.8



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Paper Authors


Rocio Alba-Flores Alfred State College

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Rocio Alba-Flores received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Tulane University. She is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Technology Department at the State University of New York, Alfred. Her main areas of interest include control systems, robotics, digital systems, microprocessors, and signal and image processing.

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

Laboratory Enhancements for Improving Embedded Systems Education


The Electromechanical Engineering Technology program at Alfred State College requires a sequence of two courses in embedded systems. Embedded Controller Fundamentals and Embedded Controller Applications. Both courses involve hands-on, project oriented laboratory exercises. For the embedded controller courses, students are required to purchase a specified low- cost microcontroller evaluation system instead of a textbook. A reasonable priced reference text is recommended, and students are strongly encouraged to use extensively the online manuals available from the microcontroller manufacturer. Among the many benefits that we have identified by requiring students to buy their own microcontroller system is that they learn to be more careful with safety issues when working with hardware components to avoid damaging their systems. On the other hand, the department also benefits because the inventory of laboratory equipment is reduced, as well as its maintenance. Also, because the microcontroller systems are purchased by every new generation of students, this gives the instructor the flexibility to incorporate changes in technology without having to request support for new equipment and infrastructure. The present paper describes three main actions that have been identified to help our students to develop a greater understanding and appreciation for embedded systems.


Nowadays embedded systems are used in a wide spectrum of application areas, from very simple systems that includes for example toothbrushes, cell phones, and house appliances to complex systems that include automobiles, industrial controllers, instrumentation, and network routers. According to experts, the demand for knowledgeable and skilled technicians, engineers, and technologists in embedded systems is expected to continue to grow. This means that many of today’s engineering students will need in one way or another to work in the arena of embedded systems after they graduate. Therefore engineering students need to be prepared accordingly to meet the challenges this industry demands1,2,3

At Alfred State College we have been revising our associate and baccalaureate curricula in electrical engineering technology to provide our students with the knowledge and skills for embedded systems design and applications. The first exposure that our students have to the area of embedded systems is during their freshman year, in the Digital Logic course. In this course students learn the basic of digital systems design, and use Altera Quartus II software for creating and simulating their projects, and by the end of the semester students experiment with programmable logic devices using the Altera UP1 board, exposing them to the basics of reconfigurable logic resources. In the sophomore year, a sequence of two courses in embedded controllers is offered. Embedded Controller Fundamentals and Embedded Controller Applications. Both courses are based on the Motorola 68HC11 microcontroller. The present paper describes the actions that have been taken in the Embedded Controller Fundamentals course that we have detected that seem to help our students to develop a greater understanding and appreciation for embedded systems.

Alba-Flores, R. (2007, June), Laboratory Enhancements For Improving Embedded Systems Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2236

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