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Mesh Networks In Embedded Computer Systems For Technology Education

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Computer ET Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.926.1 - 11.926.14



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Paper Authors

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C. Richard Helps Brigham Young University


Craig Malquist Brigham Young University

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Craig Malquist is a Graduate Student in Information Technology at Brigham Young University. He has interests in instrumentation and sensor networks.

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

Mesh Networks in Embedded Computer Systems for Technology Education Abstract

Embedded computer systems have advanced significantly in recent years. In the past these were usually low-cost devices with limited processing power. Computational capability was provided principally by independently operating 8-bit microcontrollers. These systems were programmed in assembly language or C code with no or minimal operating system. Now operating systems and communication with external systems are commonplace. With this evolution networking technologies, both conventional and experimental, have also become commonplace in embedded computer systems. Although standard networking technologies, such as Ethernet and TCP/IP are used other networking technologies are more appropriate for the constraints of embedded system applications. Amongst embedded systems with networks the field of low-power self-configuring mesh networks is becoming much more prevalent. They have applications to medical systems, games, family environments, natural habitats, traffic control, military battlefields and elsewhere.

This sub-discipline needs to be included in embedded computer system education. Including both theoretical and applied aspects in a technology course is challenging but possible.

This article summarizes the essential concepts and application domains of mesh networking and the challenges and opportunities of teaching this topic. It also describes practical methods of including both theoretical and applied elements in an embedded systems course for upper- division technology students.


Embedded systems have grown over the past several years to take advantage of increasing processing power and memory in smaller and lower power-consumption packages. A major aspect of this growth has been the addition of operating systems and networking technologies to embedded systems. Some of the most widely adopted embedded systems are cell phones and PDAs. These as well as many other embedded applications, have met consumers’ needs for communication and increased ability by combining 32-bit hardware together with full-blown operating systems in very small, mobile devices. Palm-size mobile systems with hundreds of megabytes of memory as well as wireless communication, high-resolution color displays and audio and video capabilities are common. In systems of this complexity it is not reasonable for developers to use assembly language or C to design and produce all the software for the application, the user interface, the hardware interface, the memory management and the communications subsystems. Sophisticated development environments and operating systems, together with libraries of functions are needed to enable modern software development approaches to be used to manage the size of the systems and the resources involved. This is especially true of consumer electronic devices, which change as rapidly as Moore’s law would predict.

Simpler 8-bit microcontroller systems are still sold by the billion and are found in everything from cars to cordless telephones. These smaller systems typically have memory capacities

Helps, C. R., & Malquist, C. (2006, June), Mesh Networks In Embedded Computer Systems For Technology Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--775

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