Asee peer logo

The Use Of Real Time Operating Systems And Development Tools As A Mean To Revitalize Computer Engineering Programming Courses

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

Electrical & Computer Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1302.1 - 9.1302.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Samuel J. Stokes

author page

Nagi El Naga

author page

Halima El Naga

Download Paper |

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

Session # 1532

The Use of Real Time Operating Systems and Development Tools as a Mean to Revitalize Computer Engineering Programming Courses Halima M. El Naga Samuel J. Stokes Nagi M. El Naga, California State Polytechnic University, Academic Developer Evangelist California State University, Pomona MicroSoft Northridge


In programming courses for electrical and computer engineering, it is difficult for the students to cognitively connect that abstract languages will eventually lead to the ability to build real hardware. The problem is that the students are used to fully functional software, and are not fascinated with the implementation of very simple programs. Often, it takes them over a period of 18 months, before they are able to write useful programs that solve real world problems. Now, if a simple iconic language, such as the one included in the Legos™ Creative Robotics system, is first introduced to them that will be the first step in teaching them the use of software to create a simple machine controllers and robots. With the release of Visual Studio 2003, and the Softwire™ Technology, it is possible for the students to experience the same creation of controllers and robots, within the Legos set of hardware. Because Visual Studio 2003 is tightly integrated with the Windows CE™ hardware, systems developed and tested using the Legos set of hardware, can be transferred over to more advanced controllers using the Windows CE based microcontrollers. In this manner, the beginning Electrical/Computer Engineering student is able to begin programming with tools that are iconic in nature, review how the iconic language creates useful code, observe it's use in inexpensive hardware components, and then move to building actual engineering grade products using Windows CE type of single board computers.

In this paper, the use of the Softwire Technology Iconic language and the ability for beginning Computer Engineering students to make the cognitive connection between abstract languages and actual building of software, and deploying the software to an embedded hardware controller with actuation of servomechanisms and reading sensors will be discussed.

1. Introduction

The use of the Legos Mindstorm™ allows the students to utilize an iconic based language for sensors and servomechanism control; however, the engineering students resist the movement to languages such as C after this experience. Now, is it possible to build a curriculum that starts with the concepts of iconic programming, move to system architecture, operating system design/ maintenance, and finally to a realistic senior project that the students need to design? If the concepts covered in the total curriculum are first briefly introduced to the students in introductory course, then this course could mimic what the students will experience during the total curriculum.

Stokes, S. J., & El Naga, N., & El Naga, H. (2004, June), The Use Of Real Time Operating Systems And Development Tools As A Mean To Revitalize Computer Engineering Programming Courses Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13110

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