Enhancing Teaching Methods on Embedded Systems with Project-Based Learning
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Automation engineering departments must continuously develop their laboratories and pedagogical tools to provide their students with effective study plans. While acquiring state-of-the-art equipment can be financially demanding, an effort is made at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim to provide the students with a hands-on sustainable experience. A strategy that consists of adopting low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for learning purposes is selected. This combines both industry-standard automation controllers, such as Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) technology, as well as novel microcontrollers designed for use in embedded systems education. Specifically, the micro: bit microcontroller based on the nRF51822 system-on-chip (SoC) and designed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is adopted. This choice is supported by an agreement between NTNU and the Norwegian company Nordic Semiconductor, which produces the nRF51822 SoC. This paper proposes a novel organisation of the embedded systems module for the engineering cybernetics education curriculum. Students are engaged in both a series of theoretical lectures as well as practical and highly-involving laboratory group projects. The course organisation and main topics as well as result analysis of student surveys are discussed. The survey results indicate that the course organisation and topics are effective for the students.