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A project-based laboratory for learning embedded system design with support from industry is presented in this paper. The aim of this laboratory is to motivate students to learn the building blocks of embedded systems and practical control algorithms by constructing a line-following robot using the quadratic interpolation technique to predict the line position. For those students who have acquired basic microcontroller hardware and software programming skills from previous courses, the hands-on exercises in the laboratory include several specific hardware circuits and software algorithms for the final project of constructing the line-following robot. The students are allowed to discuss the hardware and software problems with each other while solving each exercise, although they have to answer the teacher's questions individually to earn the score. To enhance the learning outcomes, a racing contest for the students' line-following robots is also organized to see how well the techniques learned in the laboratory are applied in the final project. The support from the local branch of Microchip Inc. allows students to obtain C-compilers and microcontrollers at no cost. The feedback from students shows that the final project of constructing line-following robots and the racing contest motivates the students to learn actively all the skills included in the laboratory for embedded system design.
Date of Publication: May 2010