June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.930.1 - 13.930.7
New Progressive Embedded Design Course for Engineering Technology
Abstract - This paper describes learning activities to develop embedded systems design skills for students in our electrical engineering technology program. Student teams design, build, and troubleshoot FPGA-based projects composed of common embedded systems peripherals, including input/output and/or electromechanical devices, and complex digital integrated circuits. The design experience is progressive, requiring each successive subsystem to be incorporated without disturbing previously completed subsystems. Furthermore, the design experience is based on a learning approach that motivates student learning and develops skills required by the student in a future professional capacity. These skills include designing to specification, teamwork, communication, and lifelong learning skills. Course evaluations were obtained from students, and the results show that the course was well received and achieved its educational objectives.
Index Terms – Embedded systems, FPGA, digital design.
INTRODUCTION In recent years, embedded systems have become very popular and are being widely used to teach basic digital systems design and advanced computer architecture courses. Also, they are currently used in thousands of practical applications. Embedded systems give students the ability to design, debug and test their projects following a very efficient and straightforward process. Digital systems lab projects have been traditionally implemented using discrete devices in a breadboard  and also programmable chips have been used . The purpose of this work is to describe how we have used FPGA cards to teach basic digital systems design and computer architecture courses in our department. The advantage of using this kind of devices is that if design changes are needed then the FPGA can be easily reprogrammed for the new design in a matter of seconds. Using traditional methods, the time to implement a project is limited because of the size of the circuit that can be wired in the time allotted for the lab session. The number of inputs is a factor in these designs since as the number of inputs increases the size of the circuit increases exponentially. For the description of the architecture of their projects, students use a Hardware Description Language (HDL). The use of the FPGA and HDL  has allowed students to create larger designs, test them, and make modifications very easily and quickly than using a traditional approach.
In implementing the embedded systems design course, we wanted to ensure that our students worked with the state of the art (i.e. current Field Programmable Gate Array devices, standard interfaces, current technology I/O devices, real applications, software tools, and hardware description languages) and that they still did actual hardware design and fabrication. We wanted students to have independence in the selection of projects, but had to ensure a uniform level of support. Finally, we had to ensure that this presented our students with a reasonably achievable design effort, and that they would have a good opportunity for success. This set of goals was in fact achieved through a strategy that incorporated team design, and the establishment of a
Rios-Gutierrez, F. (2008, June), New Progressive Embedded Design Course For Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3681
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