New role for microcontroller courses: integrating EE curricula

Jeffrey S. Mayer, Thomas Nelson Jackson, Michael E. Lockley

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A new electrical engineering (EE) course on microcontrollers has been developed at Penn State. This new course differs from previously required Computer Engineering (CMPEN) courses on microprocessors or computer organization in several important respects. Among the differences are the addition of a hardware laboratory and changes in the relative emphasis on computer organization, programming, and interfacing. More importantly, the course has been designed to serve three new purposes: to broaden the vision of the students, to integrate material from throughout the EE curriculum, and to provide greater background for general engineering practice. The objective of the new course is to introduce the application of microcontrollers in electronic and electromechanical systems. Accordingly, the course includes a three-hour per week laboratory in which students utilize a commercially available microcontroller for an LCD and keypad-based user/system interface, a digital thermometer, a stepper motor controller, and a dc servo motor controller. The emphasis on interfacing and control applications replaces the emphasis in the CMPEN courses on software and computer organization issues. This permits the course to be used to integrate a wide range sophomore-level courses and senior-level electives in power electronics, machines/drives, and controls. To this end, sixteen of the 30 lecture periods are devoted to introducing concepts from power electronics, electric machinery, and controls. These concepts are related to topics such as transistor and oriented-amp characteristics and Laplace-domain analysis from (electronic) circuits courses. Then techniques for interfacing to these devices and programming of control algorithms are discussed. Thus, we have avoided creating another course on microcontrollers per se, and instead are providing an opportunity for students to see the power of microcontrollers for building practical systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-419
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference
StatePublished - 1995
EventProceedings of the 1995 25th Annual Conference on Frontiers in Education. Part 1 (of 2) - Atlanta, GA, USA
Duration: Nov 1 1995Nov 4 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'New role for microcontroller courses: integrating EE curricula'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this