Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cornell University's AVR Projects: Hobby Inspiration, Teaching Inspiration

The ECE 4760 class at Cornell University posts their student projects for the class. There are several years' worth of class projects there, of all sorts. The class uses the AVR microcontroller, a very nice platform that I enjoy using both professionally and personally.

For personal use, I really like the Cornell site since it not only gives me ideas, but it lets me see implementations others have made (or attempted) of ideas I have for my own projects. The reports are usually sufficiently detailed that I can either replicate or build on the students' solutions to particular problems.

An AVR STK 500 development board in a custom case

Teaching Inspiration
I also find the site very inspirational as a teacher. Seeing the sort of results, rescopings, and occasional failures of the class projects undertaken by the students in this class is very valuable to me. I end my high school computer class with a project each year. My students go through the same set of compromises, adjustments, and triumphs as the students in the Cornell ECE 4760 class. While I know it's normal, it's also reassuring to see the "raw data" from another class in the form of the students' reports on their projects. It gives me a sense of where other instructors are in the scale of setting challenges before their students versus the results. Clearly the Cornell class is a challenging and dynamic class. The projects they undertake are exciting, and the results, even when less than hoped for, are exciting as well.

Plus, it makes me feel good to see that the much lower level and smaller scale challenges I present my students produce similar results. I can only hope that some of them get to go on to experience something like the ECE 4760 class in the future, and that I've helped prepare them for such things.

1 comment:

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