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A custom microcontroller system used as a Platform for Learning in ECE

TitleA custom microcontroller system used as a Platform for Learning in ECE
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsSmit, A., D. Heer, R. Traylor, and T. S. Fiez
Conference NameProceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition
Date Published06/2004

TekBots™ is a program that was started at Oregon State University in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to develop Platforms for Learning™. The program is designed to assist, re-enforce and accelerate the learning process by integrating knowledge across many different courses. For each course the TekBot platform is used to closely tie the course material to ‘real’ engineering hardware. With these hands on materials, the students can attach a real meaning to many of the seemingly ambiguous topics learned in lecture. The TekBots platform is composed of many different sub-platforms that interact with each other to create working systems.

The AVR microcontroller sub-platform consists of an embedded 8-bit microcontroller with features including; a liquid crystal display (LCD), analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), pulse width modulation (PWM), infrared (IR) communications, and a serial port. This powerful sub-platform is introduced during the junior level Computer Architecture and Assembly Language Programming class, taken by electrical and computer engineering students.

The AVR sub-platform is reused in later classes as a building block to bigger systems. Examples of this are Signals and Systems where the AVR becomes a simple digital signal processor, microcomputer design using the AVR as the core of a student built system, and VLSI Design where the students interface a FPGA coprocessor to the AVR.