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This paper presents the application of a CAI-oriented simulation environment of the 8051, namely UVI51, to the laboratory work in an introductory course on microcontrollers. The main features of UV151 derive from its orientation to education: (i) very realistic simulation of both CPU and embedded peripherals; (ii) easy-to-use interface; (iii) graphical windows that show the state and configuration of the embedded peripherals; (iv) ability to simulate the concurrent operation of several microcontrollers; and (v) ability to simulate the interaction of the microcontrollers with external peripherals. A brief description of the environment and some exercises to be implemented by the students are presented. The results of the educational experience, in terms of both opinions and scores of the students, are also discussed.