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Project-Based Learning in Embedded Systems Education Using an FPGA Platform

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3 Author(s)
Akash Kumar ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Nat. Univ. of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore ; Shakith Fernando ; Rajesh C Panicker

With embedded systems becoming ubiquitous, there is a growing need to teach and train engineers to be well-versed in their design and development. The multidisciplinary nature of such systems makes it challenging to give students exposure to and experience in all their facets. This paper proposes a generic architecture, containing multiple processors, that allows easy integration of custom and/or predefined peripherals. The architecture allows students to explore both the hardware and software issues associated with real-time and embedded systems. Furthermore, the architecture can be extended to train students in advanced concepts in embedded multiprocessor systems. This generic architecture has been used for two courses at the National University of Singapore-one on real-time embedded systems and the other emphasizing the hardware aspects of embedded systems. The project in the real-time embedded systems course has students develop a five-a-side soccer system on multiple field-programmable gate array (FPGA) boards using embedded processors. In the embedded hardware design course project, students use an embedded processor-based system to perform decryption of a block encrypted image, accelerated through a custom co-processor. The use of displays gives students a visual/interactive experience and a sense of accomplishment, while reinforcing the theoretical concepts. Both qualitative and quantitative assessment results are presented, showing how students perceived these projects and met the learning objectives.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:56 ,  Issue: 4 )