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Custom Microcontroller Peripheral Platform Design and Build: A Unique Hands-on Experience for an Undergraduate Student
Using the project based learning teaching method in an undergraduate computer engineering course provides students with valuable hands-on experience in addition to theoretical knowledge of the subject. We at Grand Valley State University’s School of Engineering utilize this teaching method in many of our courses. The effectiveness of this method is realized when a student can take this experience and carry out a project from a concept to a finished design. We were able to witness this first-hand when we had an undergraduate student undergo this unique experience of design and build. Student was entrusted the responsibility to fulfill our need in our senior level embedded systems course for a hardware peripheral platform that would integrate with the Texas Instrument’s MSP432 development board.
The paper first talks about the need for an MSP432 peripheral hardware platform. Then, we talk about taking this need and engaging an undergraduate student, engineering staff mentor, and a faculty member in the design and development of the hardware platform. Topics discussed in this section include creating design specifications, project timeline, brainstorming, hardware and software prototyping, manufacturing, debugging, and working with a limited budget to produce a final fully functional platform. The undergraduate student was expected to collaborate with the mentor and faculty member through multiple design reviews, as well as meet milestones throughout the semester long project.
The paper then talks about the various kinds of laboratory exercises and projects that can be implemented on this platform by the students in their senior-level embedded systems course. We further include student assessment data that shows that the students appreciated the use of this hardware peripheral platform to solve practical engineering problems. Finally, we conclude the paper with lessons learned and ideas for an improved learning experience.