The first two months of the year were very busy for the Imagination University Programme! Partnering with Microchip and Digilent, we successfully held workshops in Europe as part of two themed tutorial series open to academics – The Connected Microcontroller (MCU) Lab and the Workshops for MIPSfpga.
What are these workshops about?
The Connected Microcontroller (MCU) Lab (CML) is a semester-long course that provides everything teachers need to teach the basics of modern MCUs and to create an IoT system for their undergraduates. It’s the starting point for students, taking them through the basic microcontroller and I/O features, through real-time operating system concepts and advanced processor architecture, and finally into the principles of cloud connectivity. Using the open-source Creator IoT Framework, students can look at data in the cloud and remotely access the MCU node. Students taking this course will be empowered to develop their own MCU projects and deepen their understanding of programming on MIPS.
The platform is the Digilent chipKIT™ Wi-FIRE board that uses the Microchip PIC32 MCU. It’s powerful, with excellent expansion and connectivity. This is the right kind of hardware for repeated lab-use, and for student projects. The software tools are Microchip’s MPLAB X IDE: free to download, well documented, and fully supported. The teaching materials are provided in editable formats to facilitate adaptation, available now in English, Chinese and Russian and soon in Spanish, Korean and Japanese.
We understand that the first step is always the hardest when starting to work with a new platform. These “Train the Trainer” events include demos, hands-on activities and short talks. After this one-day training, our attendees were well equipped to teach students about MCUs: providing them with the materials they need and the knowledge of how to use them.
As a bonus, we gave each attendee a complete set of hardware to take away!
What do the attendees think of our workshop?
During our European workshop “tour”, our footprints spread across the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Israel. Most importantly, we worked closely with various universities, including Imperial College London, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Télécom Paris Tech and Tel Aviv University, all of whom have strong links with the Imagination University Programme. In total, 100+ people have been trained. We were glad to receive plenty of positive feedback from our attendees: over 9 out of 10 of them said they would recommend this workshop to their friends or colleagues.
Excitingly, there are some universities, such as Holon Institute of Technology, Ben Gurion University and Bar IIan University, who have already run the course or plan to adopt it based on our teaching materials.
Feedback from the course was very positive. Michael Opoku Agyeman, a lecturer at the Department of Computing and Immersive Technologies at University of Northampton, who attended our workshop at Imperial College, London on 6th January 2017 said, “I find the structure of the course impressive – particularly using delays, and state machines to introduce interrupts. This is a useful way of making the concept understandable to students and I plan to adopt it.”
Gergely Takacs, Associate Professor at Slovak University of Technology joined our workshop in Israel on 21st February 2017 and said:
“I would recommend the workshop. I feel that the MIPS architecture processors are under-represented. I think this workshop is a good opportunity to learn about this architecture and to get a hang of the toolchain.”
In addition to this European tour, we will run more workshops in China and Japan this year for the Connected MCU Lab.
Want to learn a new way to teach microcontrollers and IoT system? We have workshops coming up in China and Japan – check out the details on our event page.
Find out about the Imagination University Programme
For more information or enquiries, please visit our University Programme Page or IUP Forum. The IUP Team is ready to discuss your interests. To stay in touch, please register for the Imagination University Programme here and you can also follow the IUP programme on Twitter at @UniPgm.