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Meeting The Needs Of Industry: Development Of A Microcontroller Course For Mechanical Engineers

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.714.1 - 6.714.9

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Paper Authors

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William Culbreth

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

Session ____

Meeting the Needs of Industry: Development of a Microcontroller Course for Mechanical Engineers

William G. Culbreth University of Nevada, Las Vegas


A course was developed at the UNLV to address the needs of local industry. The course was designed to acquaint mechanical engineering students with the principles and use of microcontrollers for measurement and control.

Hastings’ Chariots, a Las Vegas-based rocket company, expressed a need for mechanical engineers with knowledge in integrating sensors with microcontrollers used to control microgravity experiments. A biomedical company in Las Vegas also indicated the need for graduates trained in the use of this same microcontroller. The microcontroller employed by both companies was also used on a research project at the university in assessing radionuclide concentrations in pipes. This system is shown in figure 1.

Although mechanical engineering students have coursework in measurements, controls, and Fortran or C programming, they have little familiarity with microcontrollers. In response to the needs of our research program and local industry in Las Vegas, the mechanical engineering department developed a microcontroller course based on the BASIC Stamp II manufactured by Parallax, Inc. In lieu of a textbook, students in the course purchased a microcontroller kit that contained an extensive manual, PC connection cable, and a processor with motherboard. The course included instruction in BASIC programming, data acquisition, sensors, and computer communication. Numerical methods useful for analyzing data acquired by the microcontroller were also covered.

Students completed two design projects in Figure 1. Microcontroller used in Autonomous Device the course. Each student designed and for Radionuclide Assessment in Pipes constructed a weather station that integrated several sensors with the BASIC

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Culbreth, W. (2001, June), Meeting The Needs Of Industry: Development Of A Microcontroller Course For Mechanical Engineers Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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