Programming is an essential skill for engineering students, particularly in areas of mechanisms and robotics, mechatronics and design. Students receive formal programming training early on in the typical engineering curriculum, but generally demonstrate difficulty in implementing programming skills to solve engineering problems in later courses. This is due to a number of factors including a lack of cohesion in programming practice in the curriculum and improper context for introducing programming to engineering students. The authors have developed a hands-on programming toolkit to allow engineers to learn programming on a Microcontroller and associated hardware (sensors, motors, output devices) using the Matlab environment. This toolkit is applicable to all levels of students, from freshman in their introductory programming course through senior and graduate students. In this hands-on toolkit, the MCU becomes the target for the program. Once programmed, the hardware runs independently and can readily be implemented outside of class or the lab. The primary method of programming an MCU is with C or assembly. One of the unique offerings of this toolkit is that it provides a way to program an MCU directly using Matlab. The premise is that adding an MCU as a programming target, rather than simply a PC, may provide a more appropriate context for engineers to learn programming. In addition, the MCU target will offer a greater number of options for incorporating programming into the engineering curriculum. This paper will present an overview of the programming toolkit and environment. The paper will also present a series of programming exercises related to dynamics of machinery, robotics, mechatronics and controls.

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