Enhancing the Programming Experience for First-Year Engineering Students through Hands-on Integrated Computer Experiences

  • Stephen L Canfield
  • Mohamed Abdelrahman
Keywords: programming, microcontroller


This paper describes the redesign and implementation of the course, Introduction to Programming for Engineers using microcontroller (mcu) hardware as the programming target. The objective of this effort is to improve the programming competency for engineering students by more closely relating the initial programming experience to the students notion of engineering through the introduction of significant hands-on experiences. Through this experience, the project also seeks to improve students satisfaction and success in subsequent courses with programming content. The course is organized around the traditional programming course topics with all programming exercises performed on mcu hardware. Details of course implementation are provided along with an assessment of data collected over two semesters. The primary outcomes demonstrate that the mcu can serve as an effective programming platform for incoming students, that hands-on experiences are important motivators in a programming course and that students readily relate computer control as a primary function of engineers.