The Arm University Program offers 10 Education Kits covering different areas of electrical, electronic and computer engineering. These Kits have been adopted in curricular courses by academics at universities worldwide. Professor Omar Hiari of German Jordanian University (GJU), Jordan outlines his views and positive experience from using these Education Kits in teaching.
As a lecturer of Computer Engineering at GJU, I was intrigued when I first came across the Arm University Program. My prior professional background in embedded systems made me realize the efficacy of the teaching materials available through the program as part of its Education Kit donation. The teaching materials provide exposure to the latest embedded systems technologies from Arm and its ecosystem with the use of these technologies as demonstrators of embedded systems concepts. Since the winter semester of 2016 - 17, I have taught four courses based on the Efficient Embedded Systems Design and Programming Education Kit donated by the Arm University Program. Furthermore, the GJU labs have been updated with Arm-based microcontroller boards donated by an Arm partner. These microcontroller boards complement the teaching materials and Keil licenses donated by Arm.
Students taking my course came in with varying levels of knowledge of embedded systems. Those who did not have prior experience in embedded systems came to realize the significance of Arm through examples of applications of Arm processors, such as the mobile phones they were holding. This helped raise their awareness about the potential applications of Arm technology to embedded systems. Other students, who were somewhat familiar with embedded systems, had heard about Arm, but not exactly understood what it was. Typical questions from these students included: Is Arm a processor? An instruction set? Software tools? The materials donated by the Arm University Program helped them to get exposed not only to the technical aspects of Arm technology, but also Arm’s unique business model and how it works. These students realize that exposure to Arm and its ecosystem technologies would better prepare them for a fulfilling career in the vast Arm ecosystem. My personal favorite experience is that of students coming to me at the end of a course looking for advice on which Arm-based microcontroller to use for their hardware-related startup or senior project. This leads me to believe adopting the Arm University Program’s Education Kits is beneficial.
As a lecturer, what I like is that the teaching materials are generic, that is, they are not restricted to any type of microcontroller. This enabled me to easily compare microcontroller technologies and highlight differences. The hands-on pedagogy employed in the teaching materials, I think, also made some students feel more confident about reading and understanding microcontroller technical reference manuals. Moreover, the modular nature of the materials allowed me to mix and match topics according to the needs of my course. The modularity was also beneficial in the sense that, depending on possible extra time available at the end of a course, a topic or two could be incrementally added without affecting the flow. The experience thus far has been encouraging enough for me to adopt other Arm University Program Education Kits for teaching related courses in the department.
The Arm University Program's Education Kits consist of a comprehensive suite of course materials consisting of lecture slides with notes complemented with hands-on lab exercises with solutions. The Kits also include Arm Keil or DS-5 professional software tools and are donated on request to academics who qualify.
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