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Microcontrollers are low-cost, dedicated computer chips that are found in a wide variety of consumer products and commercial applications. With the availability of low-cost development kits with easy-to-use programming interfaces, projects were developed to provide a hands-on introduction to the hardware interfacing and software development of microcontrollers for simple applications. The intended audience of the projects is first- or second- year students with little or no experience with microcontrollers, programming, or electronics. Students construct the electronic interfaces and drivers of basic I/O devices and program a simple 8-pin microcontroller in the C programming language to control the I/O of various projects. The projects involve sequencing of lights, synthesis of sound, motor speed control, and sensor interfacing. The projects have been successfully tested over the last two years in our one-credit Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering course, taken by all first-semester Electrical and Computer Engineering sophomores; and, more recently, they are serving as the laboratory-component of our freshmen year Engineering and Programming Applications course.