Engineering and Computer Science Faculty Publications

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Journal Title

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition



First Page


Last Page





Understanding the use of microcontrollers is fundamental in both Electrical and Computer Engineering undergraduate programs. Our school replaced our microprocessor class with microcontroller class in year 2010 due to the fast growing popularity of microcontrollers. In the first two years of offering this class, a more traditional “lectures plus weekly Lab” model was used. Students received background knowledge in the lecture and applied that information in the lab. In order to improve students’ ability to design, problem solve and research, a new teaching approach was adopted for this course in 2012. After preparing the class with sufficient fundamental knowledge, they are asked to implement a microcontroller project of their own choice. The students must conduct research on the state of the art in that topic, design their own implementation which includes both hardware and software, and plan the budget. They also must submit a project proposal along with the electrical components list and the total cost for their project. Once approved, the team implements their project and gives a demonstration and a presentation of their work to the whole class. The classes have enjoyed learning through the project research and implementation.

The diversified projects have allowed the students to more deeply and broadly explore microcontroller applications. The projects show them the significance of microcontrollers and inspires their interests in Computer and Electrical Engineering. It also give them practical practice in team work and time management. Additionally, it has helped to better prepares them for the coming senior design projects.

This paper will explain why and how the new model is adopted in our microcontroller course. It will demonstrate some of the fun projects our student implemented. It will also present the improved class outcomes and evaluations.


Microprocessors, microcontrollers


© 2015 American Society for Engineering Education



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