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This paper describes the reform of a sophomore-level course in computer organization for the computer science BS curriculum at The University of Texas at El Paso, where Java and integrated IDEs have been adopted as the first and primary language and development environments. This effort was motivated by faculty observations and industry feedback indicating that upper-division students and graduates were failing to achieve mastery of non-garbage-collected, strictly imperative languages, such as C. The similarity of C variable semantics to the underlying machine model enables simultaneous mastery of both C and assembly language programming and exposes implementation details that are difficult to teach independently, such as subroutine linkage and management of stack frames. An online lab manual has been developed for this course that is freely available for extension or use by other institutions.
Date of Conference: 18-21 Oct. 2009