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Moving The C Language Course Into The Real World

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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

6.730.1 - 6.730.7

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Paper Authors

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Les Kinsler

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David Delker

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

Session 1347

Moving the C Language Course into the Real World

David Delker, Les Kinsler Engineering Technology Department, Kansas State University – Salina


The Kansas State University-Salina Engineering Technology Department offers a C programming course for non-Computer Science Technology majors. The course is designed to teach the C language syntax, structured programming design and implementation, and to link the language to applications within the students’ areas of specialization. In the Fall 2000 semester, a local manufacturer requested help in upgrading an existing microprocessor-based control application. The industry partner agreed to allow the C programming class to write the application as a class project. This project required the students to incorporate interrupts, timing, signal monitoring, real-time calculations, and extensive interfacing to input and output devices. This paper focuses on the unique interaction between students and industry and the benefits that this real-world process brought into the course and into the academic program.


Applications in C Programming for Engineering Technology, CMST 222, is a course designed to introduce non-Computer Science Technology majors to the C language. Most of the students in this class have limited exposure to third-generation programming languages. Applied Basic Programming is the only course prerequisite to CMST 222. The students in this class come from a variety of majors including Mechanical Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, and Computer Engineering Technology. Consequently, the class is made up of a diversity of backgrounds, abilities, and technical interests.

The course is a three credit hour course that meets three days a week in a lecture setting. The students do homework and laboratory assignments on their own time. The course works on a traditional scheme of introducing students to top-down program design. The first half of the semester is devoted to understanding constructs, creating flowcharts, and developing algorithms.

During the second half of the semester, the class was divided into teams of five students. Each group was to design and code a statistics program. Each team was given a data file format along with a specification of statistical data that were to be calculated. Each team was to break down the problem into functions. Teams then assigned functions to specific team members. Each member was required to submit the function prototype: the function name, return type, and the list of parameter types. The program assignment required that no global variables be used. Once the prototypes were completed, each member of the team was to design and code their assigned functions. In addition, each member was required to write a main program to call the functions, produce the required statistical values, and output the program results.

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

Kinsler, L., & Delker, D. (2001, June), Moving The C Language Course Into The Real World Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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