June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
13.1315.1 - 13.1315.14
Unifying Laboratory Content of a Digital Systems and Computer Architecture Curriculum through Horizontal and Vertical Integration
This paper describes the application of horizontal and vertical integration to unify the digital systems and computer architecture curriculum for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University Calumet. An enhanced set of twelve laboratory assignments and five design projects resulted from performing the integration. Horizontal integration was achieved by providing a consistent presentation of concepts across two computer architecture laboratory courses while simultaneously providing students the necessary skill-set for developing a successful career as a computer engineer. Vertical integration was achieved by interweaving common technical theories and skills to establish interdependence among all digital system and computer architecture laboratory coursework. The restructured laboratory sequence provides a cohesive educational experience and significant exposure to concepts, design methodologies, and software tools ubiquitous in the semiconductor and computer industry.
Three digital systems and computer architecture courses are administered sequentially by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University - Calumet. The first course, ECE 370: Digital Systems – Logic Design, is a three credit hour course with a two hour lecture component and a three-hour laboratory component. The course introduces students to combinational and sequential logic design principles through the use of a hardware description language (HDL) and reconfigurable hardware. The second course, ECE 371: Microprocessor Systems, is a three credit-hour course organized into a two-hour lecture and one, three-hour laboratory session. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of computer organization and design. The third course, ECE 464: Computer Architecture and Organization, is a four credit-hour course with a three-hour lecture and one, three-hour laboratory section. This course builds on the fundamental computer organization and design concepts taught in ECE 371 by examining advanced concepts in computer architecture.
A proactive undergraduate student who completed the three course sequence observed a stable platform provided by the ECE 370 laboratory course, however, he noticed a disjoint learning experience for the two computer architecture laboratory courses. Examining the structure, approach, concepts, and tools used to administer the laboratory sections for both courses indicated a need for improvement. A more effective ECE 371 laboratory would incorporate the use of an architectural simulator and reconfigurable hardware, establish an increased emphasis on dataflow and structural digital system modeling, and expand the instruction set support of the RISC microprocessor designed in the laboratory course. The observations revealed greater concerns with the goals of the ECE 464 laboratory content. Deviating from lecture, the requirement of designing an IEEE 802.3 network repeater created a difficult learning experience for students enrolled in ECE 464. Through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering senior design course, a team was independently assembled to formulate and implement solutions to improve the two computer architecture laboratory sections of the three course computer engineering sequence focusing on hardware.
Naumov, S., & Obermeyer, W., & Singhal, R., & Garcia, E., & Houshangi, N. (2008, June), Unifying Laboratory Content Of A Digital Systems And Computer Architecture Curriculum Through Horizontal And Vertical Integration Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4338
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