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Upgrading A Microcontroller Systems Course With The Cypress Psoc

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Digital and Embedded System Design

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1521.1 - 12.1521.14



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Paper Authors

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Kevin Bolding Seattle Pacific Univ

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Dave Van Ess Cypress Semiconductor

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

Upgrading a Microcontroller Systems Course Using the Cypress PSoC


As our society continually embraces technology to greater and greater degrees, the need for engineers with the skills to develop microcontroller based systems is constantly growing. Microcontroller systems design courses are meant to equip students with the understanding, skills, and methods needed to design and develop systems built around a microcontroller core. When designing such a course, the selection of a particular microcontroller is a very important decision. The selection should consider not only what microcontrollers are currently popular, but also the ease of project development using the system, the availability of support to students, the costs of starting up a lab, and the flexibility of the platform to fit into a course with multiple objectives. This paper reports on using Cypress Semiconductor’s Programmable System on a Chip (PSoC) as the basis for a microcontroller systems design course. The experience of selecting the PSoC, designing a curriculum around it, designing laboratory exercises and managing the course are described. Furthermore, considerations such as the technical and financial support provided by Cypress and student experiences and outcomes are considered and analyzed. Finally, achievement of students who had taken the PSoC course or an earlier non- PSoC microcontrollers course are compared based on their performance in the follow-on senior design course.


Small embedded systems based on inexpensive microcontroller cores have pervaded modern societies to the point that most people in industrialized nations interact with dozens of such systems on a daily basis. Developing small systems based on microcontrollers can be both enjoyable and profitable – both hobbyists and professionals enjoy the endless possibilities and inexpensive solutions available to the clever designer. The practical nature and powerful potential of microcontroller systems can form the basis for a very successful course in microcontroller systems design. Such courses are often found in undergraduate Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science curricula, usually offered during the junior or senior year of study. A successful microcontroller systems design course will normally include a large amount of hands-on development and experimentation with a physical development system. Ideally, a course would include experimentation with a variety of different types of microcontroller systems. However, because of time constraints in the class and the experiment with systems to a reasonable degree of depth, most courses are centered on a single development system. The choice of development system can significantly impact the success of the course and the applicability of the course material to practical use in internships and post- graduate employment.

In this paper, we examine several factors that can influence the choice of microcontroller development system for a course. We then chronicle the specific case of changing the development system in Seattle Pacific University’s Microcontroller Systems Design course from one based on an older microcontroller to one based on the Cypress Programmable System on a

Bolding, K., & Van Ess, D. (2007, June), Upgrading A Microcontroller Systems Course With The Cypress Psoc Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2301

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