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Using the Processing Programming Environment in Engineering Education

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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

Computer Science Applications

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1648.1 - 22.1648.13



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Paper Authors


Ryan J. Meuth University of Advancing Technology

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I graduated from UMR with a B.S. of Computer Engineering in 2005, after which I stayed at UMR (Now Missouri University of Science and Technology) to pursue and complete a Master’s and Ph.D. in computer engineering. I worked for Dr. Donald C. Wunsch at the Applied Computational Intelligence Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. There I worked on the Learning Applied to Ground Robotics project, developing a ground vehicle that can not only navigate unknown terrain, but be able to learn from experience with the world. During the summers since 2006 I worked at the Boeing Phantom Works in Seattle, WA, developing algorithms for adaptive control of a swarm of flying robots under varying environmental conditions and failures.
I completed my Ph.D. in the fall of 2009, and I am now a Professor of Robotics and Embedded Systems at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ. My research interests include robotics, embodied intelligence, and meta-learning algorithm development.

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Using the Processing Programming Environment in Engineering EducationThe Processing [1] programming language and IDE were initially developed as a tool for the electronicarts and visual design communities. As an open-source project, Processing has gained a great deal ofmomentum, changing from a tool specifically for artists, to a highly flexible media-rich developmentenvironment. In education, Processing has typically been used as a development environment foralgorithmic art, and as a tool for introducing programming concepts. There is great potential for the useof Processing in the classroom, particularly engineering education, as a tool for demonstrating dynamicprocesses and concepts in a visual environment. The simplicity and power of the environment allowthese demonstrations to be developed very rapidly, and a thriving community enables the open exchangeof developed applications. Additionally, several Processing based spin-off projects, Wiring [2], Arduino[3], and Fritzing [4], bring a similar design interface to embedded programming and circuit design. In this paper we explore the use of Processing as a tool for constructing interactive and demonstrativeapplications that enhance the engineering classroom experience. A brief overview of the Processingenvironment and its application in the classroom is presented. Our paper introduces guidelines fordevelopment of media-rich learning tools, addressing issues such as interactivity, simulation accuracy,and aesthetics. Several examples of classroom experiences using Processing applications are given,including fundamentals of electricity, electronics, and an introduction to controls. Student performance ismeasured through standardized assessments and student satisfaction surveys given across semesters.Partial results are presented, suggesting increased student performance and enjoyment of the learningexperience.1. Fry, B. and C. Reas. 2010 [cited 2010 Sept. 15]; Available from: Barragan, H. 2010 [cited 2010 Sept. 15]; Available from: Banzi, M., et al. Arduino - Home Page. 2010 [cited 2010 Sept. 15]; Available from: Wettach, R., et al. Fritzing. 2010 [cited 2010 Sept. 15]; Available from: .

Meuth, R. J. (2011, June), Using the Processing Programming Environment in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18407

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