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Teaching Microcontrollers through Simulation

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Simulation and Virtual Instrumentation

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1398.1 - 22.1398.14



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Paper Authors


Nikunja Swain South Carolina State University

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Dr. Swain is currently a Professor at the South Carolina State University. Dr. Swain has 25+ years of experience as an engineer and educator. He has more than 50 publications in journals and conference proceedings, has procured research and development grants from the NSF, NASA, DOT, DOD, and DOE and reviewed number of books on computer related areas. He is also a reviewer for ACM Computing Reviews, IJAMT, CIT, ASEE, and other conferences and journals. He is a registered Professional Engineer in South Carolina.

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Teaching Microcontrollers through SimulationAutomation is becoming part and parcel of every industry, and industries need a trainedworkforce to manage this new development. Engineering and technology graduates must have acomprehensive background covering a wider range of technical subjects. The graduates must beproficient in the use of engineering and scientific equipment, conducting experiments, collectingdata, and effectively presenting the results.. Furthermore, these graduates must be well-trained incourses and laboratories such as electric and electronic circuits; digital systems andmicroprocessors; computer programming; computer aided design; computer organization andarchitecture; electronic and data communications; networking; control and robotics; electricmachines and power systems; PLC and virtual instrumentation; microprocessors andmicrocontrollers and others. One cost-effective way of achieving this is through the use ofsimulation software programs, and a number of simulation software packages are available forthese purposes. These software packages play an important role in education and are used todeliver training for all kinds of activities, from piloting sophisticated aircraft or ships tooperating nuclear power plants or complex chemical processing facilities.There are numerous uses of simulation, starting from simulation of simple electric circuits tocomplex tasks such as electromagnetic fields, heat transfer through materials, networking,computer circuits, game programming, electron flow in semiconductors, or beam loading withthe ultimate objective of providing illustrations of concepts that are not easily visualized anddifficult to understand. Simulators are also used as an adjunct to and, in some cases such asdistance learning courses, as a substitute for actual laboratory experiments. In many instances,students are required to verify their theoretical design through simulation before building andtesting the circuit in the laboratory. Studies show that students who used simulation prior toconducting actual experiments performed better than the students who conducted the laboratoryexperiments without conducting simulation first. Also, simulation is used to model large andcomplex systems. There is no doubt that simulation cannot replace the physical hands-onexperience, but simulation can enhance the teaching and learning experience.The objective of this paper is to discuss microcontroller simulation software packages for 8051and PIC microcontroller and its effect on education and research.

Swain, N. (2011, June), Teaching Microcontrollers through Simulation Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18646

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