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In many universities, computer architecture is taught using traditional textbook-based methods. However, it is not easy for students to understand how computers work through lecture style courses alone. This paper describes an experiential approach for teaching masters-level advanced computer architecture with the assistance of hands-on laboratory sessions, leading students to implement performance-enhancing additions to a simple stack-based CPU called Tiny CPU originally designed by Nakano of Hiroshima University. From the teaching experience in Nan yang Technological University, analysed in this paper, students manage to quickly grasp the concepts of CPU operation, rapidly investigate the effects of adjusting CPU structure on program execution, and learn the skills-set necessary to enable them to built and improve custom processors later in their careers.