Get hands-on with the hardware: Arm Education’s new edX course with a Nucleo STM32 board

When will the fundamentals of embedded systems be as valuable as math or literature considered essential to a thriving society? People grapple with these questions, but the industry increasingly seems to think that understanding on-board systems is quite essential. For example, Arm Education (ArmEducationX) just launched a new course on the popular MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform edX. Entitled Embedded Systems Essentials with Arm: Get Practical with Hardware, it uses a NUCLEO-F401RE for laboratory applications. The Introductory Program is for undergraduates, amateurs, and professionals looking to improve themselves. It is also the second course required for the Arm Education Professional Certificate.

Be practical with hardware: make embedded systems more accessible

ST’s educational platforms

” Where to start ? “Or” What should I know? Are common questions for those interested in electrical and computer engineering, but the right answer is not always obvious. ST has dedicated educational platforms to make the fundamentals more accessible. Our teams worked with Professor William Kaiser at UCLA on an undergraduate course on Embedded Systems with SensorTile. We also collaborated on more advanced topics, such as embedded systems in C and assembly taught at the University of Maine by Professor Yifeng Zhu. Likewise, Professor Kaiser has developed advanced courses in motor control and control systems, and we have plenty of getting started guides available. However, the new Arm Education course is exciting because it offers a new approach to embedded systems..

Arm Education’s innovative approach to embedded systems

Building on edX, Arm Education enables students to use a popular learning platform and issue a professional certificate. Users also benefit from a strong community of like-minded academics who can motivate and support them. The course adapts to different lifestyles and it is possible to register at any time. It thus offers more flexibility and can relieve students with little experience in the subject.. The professional certificate also aims to give a broad understanding of embedded systems and Mbed, the development tool of Arm and RTOS. Therefore, Embedded Systems Essentials with Arm: Get Practical with Hardware focuses more on providing an accessible point of entry into the field than simply mimicking a college course.

The desire to make the curriculum more accessible is also apparent in its underlying structure. The new program includes four modules, two on serial communications and two on real-time operating systems (RTOS). It builds on the first Arm Education course (Embedded Systems Essentials with Arm: Getting Started) and will allow students interested in more advanced topics to progress with confidence. Both courses only require a basic understanding of C and attempt to challenge students with real world applications. Indeed, even those who have a good grasp of embedded systems will always find value in answering questions that challenge their way of thinking about IoT and its computing paradigms..

Be practical with the material: make the learning experience more tangible

An accessible nomenclature

The same desire for greater accessibility that inspired the courses drove Arm Education to choose the NUCLEO-F401RE card. The developer tool is one of the most popular STM32 Nucleo systems. As such, it benefits from a lot of documentation and a strong community that can help students when needed. The STM32F4 in the center of the board also offers the best compromise for an introductory course. This is because the MCU is cost effective while providing the I / O and performance needed to address the concepts presented. In addition, students who take the course will learn on the same board as many industry players for their projects. It is therefore a way to ensure that users acquire expertise that will serve them in their professional life.

In addition to the board, ST and Arm Education have established a BOM containing the components students will need during the course. Indeed, the course authors have put together a list of devices that will make the different lessons more practical and more relevant.. For example, students discover a small LCD screen when they learn about serial communication, thus visually observing the information sent by the microcontroller. The BoM also includes, among other things, a model, a sensor and a potentiometer, as well as some resistors. The BoM is economical with a total price of around $ 60 with the STM32 Nucleo card or $ 50 without, for those who already have it.

In the midst of a pandemic

One of the many paradoxes of this global pandemic is that while students are taking online classes, purchasing books or hardware components is a bit more complicated than usual. ST thus works with distributors so that everyone can get their hands on all the components of the BoM. The global crisis may make it difficult to obtain some parts, but we are working intensively with our partners to ensure that students receive their full BOM as soon as possible. During this time, it is possible to start the course without the material and learn the fundamental concepts before tackling the labs.

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