Asee peer logo

Teaching Resources For Handheld Computers

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Portable/Embedded Computing I

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1193.1 - 9.1193.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Ken Alford

Download Paper |

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

in the form of KVM (Kilobyte Virtual Machine), Kawt (an implementation of the Abstract Window Toolkit for the KVM), J9 (IBM’s virtual machine that is supported by Visual Age Micro Edition), or any number of other flavors — is currently one of the most popular languages for programming handheld applications.

Application development is appropriate when existing PDA software resources cannot adequately satisfy student requirements. At West Point, for example, freshmen (who are referred to as plebes) must be able to recite the number of days that remain until each football game, spring leave, graduation, and other notable student activities. Faculty in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department created a small PDA program entitled “The Days” that simplifies this daily ritual for freshmen students.

One instructor uses a PDA to choose which student to call on in class based on both the frequency they have been called on and the quality of their answers in the past.

Student Projects

In their senior year, students majoring in computer science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York are required to take two multidisciplinary senior project design courses. Each course is 3.0 credit hours with a 0.5 credit lab. These courses are part of an ABET-accredited computer science program. Throughout the year faculty members from several engineering departments gather information on suitable multidisciplinary senior design projects. Project customers range from funded Army research programs to inter-collegiate design competitions to local projects that will benefit one or more campus organizations.

Several senior design projects at West Point have successfully use PDAs as an integral part of project solution. Here is a sampling of some of the PDA-based student two-semester design projects:

• Handheld Terminal Unit. This student team contained computer science and electrical engineering majors. The Handheld Terminal Unit project team worked to replace the Army’s Handheld Terminal Unit (HTU) with a platform independent, smaller, lighter, and less expensive system that can run on a personal digital assistant (PDA). HTU’s are used for a variety of purposes—calling for fire from Apache attack helicopters, receiving or sending operation orders, submitting information on battlefield surveys, etc. The Army’s current HTU costs approximately $18,000 and weighs 8.6 lbs. PDA’s, on the other hand, weigh less than 1 pound and cost less than $200 each. This project was conducted in coordination with the Program Manager, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System.

• Perimeter Defense System. This student project team consisted of computer science and electrical engineering majors. The Perimeter Defense System enables a defensive perimeter to be passively monitored by unobtrusive ground sensors. When a sensor is disturbed, the alert information is passed to a handheld computing device.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Alford, K. (2004, June), Teaching Resources For Handheld Computers Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13168

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015