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In order to keep pace with advancements in technology, electrical and computer engineering education is undergoing some major changes. Today's students are utilizing more sophisticated equipment in the classroom and laboratory to enhance their engineering skills. Much of this change is fueled by the availability of more affordable and easy to use microcontrollers and embedded systems including reconfigurable multipurpose hardware platforms. At the heart of this paradigm shift in education is the proliferation of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), programmable logic devices (PLDs) and the growth of system on a chip (SOC) design. SOC designs facilitate innovation by incorporating the speed of dedicated hardware and memory with the flexibility of general purpose processors on a single chip. The use of this prototyping platform is enabling students to combine information form courses in digital logic design and microcontroller programming to create system-level designs and more fully understand hardware / software interaction. In this paper we provide a background of the reprogrammable platform and discuss how academic research activities can also benefit from the use of a similar platform. By enhancing information sharing and cooperation between research and education undergraduate students can gain more exposure to cutting-edge academic research. In addition, the use of prototyping for research will provide additional visibility of research projects to the industrial community. We suggest, through the use of case studies utilizing the reprogrammable platform how such cooperation can be achieved and prove beneficial to technology development.