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So Many Educational Microcontroller Platforms, So Little Time!

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Projects and Applications

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1165.1 - 25.1165.17



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Paper Authors


Antonio Francisco Mondragon Rochester Institute of Technology

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Antonio F. Mondragon-Torres received a B.Sc. degree with honors from Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico, a M.Sc. degree from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, and a Ph.D. degree (as a Fullbright-CONACYT scholarship recipient) from Texas A&M University, College Station; all degrees in electrical engineering in 1990, 1996, and 2002, respectively. From 1988 to 1995, he worked in a telecommunications company TVSCOM, Mexico City, Mexico, designing teletext products, first as a Design Engineer and later as a Design Manager. In 1995, he joined the Mechanical and Electrical Department, Universidad Iberoamericana, as an Associate Professor. From 2002 through 2008, he was with the DSPS R&D Center’s Mobile Wireless Communications Technology branch, Texas Instruments Dallas, Texas, and in 2008, he moved to the nanoMeter Analog Integration Wireless branch where he worked as Analog IP verification technical lead. In 2009, he worked for Intel Guadalajara, Design Center in Mexico as Front-End/Back-End technical lead. In 2009, he joined the Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Department at the Rochester Institute of technology where he currently is a tenure-track Assistant Professor. His research interests are analog and digital integrated circuit implementation of communications systems, and system-on-a-chip methodologies.

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Adriana Becker-Gomez Rochester Institute of Technology

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So Many Educational Microcontroller Platforms, so Little Time!To teach a basic microcontroller course at early stages of the electrical and computer engineeringtechnology program is very challenging since many students can come already knowing aplatform that they have used in high school or that they have used as hobbyists. On the majorityof the cases the students have not been exposed to any microcontroller platform at all and theworst part is that they want to learn how to develop smartphone or tablet like applications rightaway and turning on LEDs does not impress them anymore. If we survey the number of differentmicrocontroller platforms available to teach students we find: CISC and RISC architectures;platforms that could be programmed very efficiently in assembly language or using very highlevel languages; platforms that do not have any open source libraries to perform input/outputinterfaces and other ones that have a complete set of libraries, other platforms hide all themicrocontroller architecture and just focus on applications.What is a good platform that could offer good exposure to microcontroller architectures; easyassembly language and high level programming languages; graphical system programming andconfiguration; and at the same time that allow students to apply it for project based learning?Another very important factor is that are affordable for students to buy and experiment with itwithout worrying to damage it?In this paper we give an example on one microcontroller platform that has been selected to teacha microcontroller based course that has all of the above treats and has been used for the lastcouple years in an electrical and computer engineering technology department. In addition, wewill go to the other spectrum in which we present a success case of a project application of thisplatform with a non-electrical/computer student that went from idea to implementation in a verysystematic way with a not very steep learning curve and was able to assimilate and target hisdesired application.Embedded systems are ubiquitous and that is the reason we should expose engineeringtechnology students at an early stage of their program with tools that will lead them to ideation,innovation, energy awareness, problem solving and in the future to become part of a verycompetitive workforce.

Mondragon, A. F., & Becker-Gomez, A. (2012, June), So Many Educational Microcontroller Platforms, So Little Time! Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21922

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