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Microelectronic system design is undergoing rapid changes that dramatically affect the way microelectronic systems are designed and implemented. These changes are also having a direct impact on the way microelectronic design is taught in technical study programs such as engineering. We have been involved (for 18 months) in a project to develop an environment for the design and rapid prototyping of small-scale systems. This paper describes our experiences with the system design and rapid prototyping tools that were evaluated during that period.