New Digital Systems Technology: New Challenges in Teaching Digital Technology Courses
2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
New digital systems technology: New challenges in teaching digital technology courses. Highly complex technologies like Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) have substituted the traditional small and medium scale integration devices (SSI and MSI respectively) in the design of digital systems during the last two decades. Among the major advantages of this dramatic technological change are a significant simplification of the design of products and reduction in their delivery time and cost.
... me and cost. Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools are now preferred for designing digital circuits over the traditional discrete gate-based design. Most of the FPGA suppliers offer to the academic institutions at low costs, or even free of charge, different development tools which are particularly suited for adoption by schools with limited resources. Specifically, schools in developing countries may benefit from having a powerful development and training platform with reasonable low cost. This new technology demands a new approach in the way digital logic is taught. In this study we discuss some key strategies that should be considered in the development of curricula for undergraduate courses in the area of digital technology. This is an exploratory study that looks at the experience gained from teaching courses in the area of digital systems in the department of Engineering Technology at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Daytona State College (DSC) during the last six years. In the mentioned cases, the referred technological change has been gradually incorporated into courses of Digital Technology, Digital Systems and Digital Programmable Devices. Two different generations of FPGA boards and CAD tools were introduced in these courses during this period. Similarly, the changes in hardware and the use of CAD tools demanded the use of Hardware Programming Language, in which case VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) was adopted. Therefore, we have compiled a trajectory of assessments on the impact of the incorporation of the new technology, which is the base of our study.