For the Arm University Program, 2018 was yet another year of milestones.
We further augmented our educational offerings with versions of teaching materials written for use with either more affordable hardware or FPGA on cloud. This was in response to the teaching needs of academics at universities and feedback from many students worldwide.
We lowered the barriers to teaching the concepts of a SoC Design flow in a class or lab setting further with a version of our Introduction to SoC Design teaching materials. These were written for use with a truly low-cost Mimas-V2 (Spartan6-based) FPGA board from Numato Lab. This was in addition to the free access to the Arm Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 processor IP Arm had made available at the click of a mouse button to academics worldwide in June 2017 under the DesignStart Eval program.
Also, to enable students to plan for flexible study times outside of classroom and lab hours, our sister division Arm Education Media (AEM) published a companion textbook to our Efficient Embedded Systems Design Education Kit teaching materials. To help academics create an improved learning experience for their students, our colleagues at AEM will provide them with a free inspection e-copy of this companion textbook (write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free e-copy if you haven’t already got one). This will enable academics to consider the textbook as a reference book for their class as well as their university and/or departmental libraries.
Last but not least, in keeping with the trends towards enabling access to educational materials via the cloud, we brought out an early-adopter version of the Introduction to SoC Design teaching materials with labs designed for use with FPGA on Amazon Web Services’ cloud environment. We are gathering feedback currently to shape full release with a target date of Q1 2019.
Reviewing the Arm University Program as a complete offering, we have been providing a series of Education Kits addressing core subject areas of Electrical/Electronic and Computer Engineering (ECE) or Computer Science (CS) since Sep 2013. The continuing eagerness with which academics at universities worldwide have been requesting our Education Kit teaching materials is a testament to our aim of helping them with a dependable baseline curriculum of course and lab materials for their teaching needs, in turn enabling them to focus more of their time and energies on tasks having to do with research and research proposals.
The teaching materials have been designed with an approach in demand these days needed to address the engineering skills gap – hands-on, constructive learning. To the discerning academic, a feature of the Education Kit teaching materials is the hands-on approach to teaching or learning it adopts. A huge part of this requirement for getting this hands-on approach right is access to technology – the right kind of hardware. The hands-on activities in our teaching materials designed for knowledge construction along the learning path depend on the type and nature of hardware. Hardware around which we chose to write our teaching materials is not only low-cost (enabling 24/7 access to students), but also equipped with a fair share of interfaces and on-board sensors for commonly used embedded or IoT applications from an educational as well as “becoming work-ready” perspective.
To enable easy access to the hardware featured in our teaching materials, we further continued with our efforts to widen our network of hardware partners in ways that help academics and students access this hardware quickly and in a straightforward manner. We worked with hardware distributors such as Mouser and Numato Lab on putting together microsites on their respective websites designed to provide quick overviews of our Education Kits and, consequently, a rapid sense of the hardware that goes with an Education Kit title. This enables academics or students with meeting their hardware needs along with literature about and links to our educational materials that can help them get started on working with the hardware quickly.
The microsites make hardware selection a learning experience in its own right – you first choose the course title of interest, learn a little about it and then zero in on the hardware that suits your needs as well as the requirements of teaching or learning for the course. This is over and above the considerations of low-cost hardware and the hands-on approach of the teaching materials, both of which have already been taken care of. Academics can then use the Education Kit request link to get their copy of the free-of-charge teaching materials for their teaching needs, whereas students, enthusiasts, and aspiring and professional engineers can use the online course link to check out the suitability of using self-taught, self-paced online courses from Arm Education Media. Academics or students can further consider the textbook links (provided a course title has one listed against it) from the perspective of their teaching or learning needs, respectively.
In September 2018, we decided to embark on an initiative to interact with academics using a forum where academics and technology industries could connect with each other in person for the purposes of looking at how engineering pedagogy could be enhanced with the proper and effective use of technology. As a result, we put together an Education Showcase as part of the 2018 Arm Research Summit. Although planned in a very short span of time, the Showcase was full featured with academics at universities in the UK describing their experience of using our Education Kits or Arm-based hardware from semiconductor partners in the Arm ecosystem.
Professor Alexandre Kabla of Cambridge University Engineering Department (CUED) explained the motivation behind using Arm’s open-source Mbed API in developing a cross-disciplinary engineering curriculum around the STM32 Nucleo-144 F746ZG development board designed to provide students of eight different engineering disciplines at CUED device programming and sensor-interfacing skills, enabling them to carry onward to achieving greater heights of scholarship and academic success with more ease.
Professor Donald Reay of Heriot Watt University Edinburgh, on the other hand, described the ways in which he circumvented the usual pitfalls of working with off-the-shelf FPGA platforms while using the Introduction to SoC Design Education Kit.
Christopher Broadbent of STMicroelectronics UK pitched in with a statement of how ST enabled educators with content development around hardware designed and developed from the point of view of imparting knowledge. In particular, he mentioned the development of an Embedded Systems curriculum at University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) around the ST SensorTile, especially for non-electronic engineers – an excellent example of how academia’s endorsement of our Education Kits has provided the impetus to partner companies in the Arm ecosystem to create and sustain an environment promoting skill development around their respective Arm-based hardware.
You can catch up on the Education Showcase here if you missed it.
In August 2018, the Arm University Program also co-founded Cornell Cup on Arm with Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The first edition of this competition is underway with 15 plus teams headed into the semi-finals to be held in late Jan 2019. While the initial application and semi-finals are online events, the finals have been slated as an in-person event at NASA Kennedy Space Centre.
Then researchers at the Cambridge University Engineering Department Robotics Lab, led by Professor Fumiya Iida, worked on the currently hot subject of soft robotics, key to universally solving the picking challenge, using the open source mbed programming interface with the original mbed board, NXP LPC1768, for controlling a robotic arm and fingers. They put their learning and experience from this work involving AI to use at the 2018 World Robot Summit in Tokyo Japan where they won the innovator award.
Finally, we conducted a spate of workshops for both faculty and students in the USA and Brazil on the “Introduction of SoC Design” Education Kit using the ever so energetic and enthusiastic resource of our long-standing academic champion, Professor Victor Nelson of Auburn University, Alabama, USA.
Arm Education Media has recently launched its DSP companion textbook to the existing Arm University Program Education Kit on Digital Signal Processing. Academics adopting or who have adopted this Education Kit may request a free inspection e-copy of the textbook from the point of view of equipping their libraries or labs with it to help their students.
With more textbooks planned in the months ahead, we hope to partner with leading distributers to ensure that we have a global presence in the educational textbook marketplace. This aligns perfectly with the goal of our textbook publishing program, namely, to provide students, professionals, enthusiasts and hobbyists with a low-cost, easy-access entry point into the world of embedded systems, microcontrollers, computer architecture, coding as well as simulation.
Running alongside the Education Kits, we currently have eight online courses available for students, enthusiasts, aspiring and practicing engineers. These online courses have been designed to develop interest, knowledge and expertise in a course area on top of the foundational concepts taught by academics at universities from an innovation and work-readiness perspective. Two further online courses are under development and will be launched in the latter half of 2019: the first on Embedded Linux and the second on Mechatronics and Robotics.
If you’d like to have your say on wider issues and subject areas, we’d encourage you to join the Education Hub. The Education Hub is a newly launched online forum where you can join academics, students, professionals, librarians and others in a community that encourages and promotes thought leadership, debate, discussion and opinion in Computer Engineering, Computing, STEM Education and Publishing. It will feature regular blog articles, forums and even opportunities to author.
Visit the Education Hub
Last, but not least, we welcome your inputs and feedback on our Education Kits. We constantly look for ideas to improve the breadth and depth of the Electrical/Electronic and Computer Engineering (ECE) or Computer Science (CS) topics covered in them. We want to be able to help provide a broader based curriculum for most academics worldwide and, at the same time, the in-depth hands-on labs, teaching materials and support so necessary for some of you.
Please do get in touch with the Arm University Program with any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or feedback you have about creating a better and more inspiring environment for engineering education for our future generations. Email us at email@example.com