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Work in progress-designing and building a mini supercomputer to improve parallel processing instruction

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1 Author(s)
Stephen W. Turner ; The University of Michigan-Flint

It is well documented that computer science education is improved with greater student involvement through interesting practical exercises. Many studies exemplify this through their use of hands-on programming activities with physical objects, such as robots, to illustrate important concepts. It is also known that interest in computer science has recently waned, and more specifically, interest in parallel processing has decreased greatly since its zenith in the early 1990s. Simultaneously, recent developments in computer architecture underline the future importance of parallel processing, and the popular press continually reports on the great need for more IT graduates in general. Past studies suggest that intrinsic motivation for given tasks can improve creativity. This paper presents a work-in-progress study, in which specific practical exercises were examined for their effectiveness at improving the motivation level of students, leading to greater creativity and interest in participation in a parallel processing class. The exercises involved the design and construction of a low-cost supercomputer using off-the-shelf components.

Published in:

2010 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)

Date of Conference:

27-30 Oct. 2010