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Simulated Custom Microcontroller for a Remote First-Year Software Design Project

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

Start Date

August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Aidan Matzko The Ohio State University Engineering Education Department

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Aidan is a graduate teaching associate at The Ohio State University's Engineering Education Department, where he teaches the freshman Fundamentals of Engineering Honors (FEH) class sequence. He will be graduating with a BS CSE and MS ECE, and has a focus on cybersecurity.

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Brooke Morin The Ohio State University

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Brooke Morin is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Engineering at Ohio State University, teaching First-Year Engineering for Honors classes in the Department of Engineering Education. Brooke earned her bachelor's degree and master's degree in Mechanical Engineering at Ohio State.

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The autumn semester of the first-year engineering honors program at a large midwestern university features instruction in problem solving, MATLAB and C/C++ computer programming, and technical communication. It culminates in a software design project at the end of the autumn semester, where students develop a touch-based interactive video game in C++ on the in-house microcontroller. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a custom microcontroller simulator was developed in Python to allow for this project to be completed remotely without access to the physical controller. Additional changes to the project were implemented to provide extra scaffolding and address the unlimited access students had to the simulator, compared to previous years where they were limited to class time. The final architecture of the simulator is described, as well as the initial prototypes that influenced design decisions. Student submissions are analyzed for complexity and compared to past years to determine if the modified project allowed students to write more elaborate code. Finally, the paper discusses the potential for this simulator to improve project accessibility and flexibility when classes return to in person instruction and the ways in which it could serve as a guide to develop simulators for other courses using similar devices, improving accessibility and optimizing resources.

Matzko, A., & Morin, B. (2021, August), Simulated Custom Microcontroller for a Remote First-Year Software Design Project Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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