Calculator: A Hardware Design, Math and Software Programming Project Base Learning
This paper presents the implementation by the students of a complex calculator in hardware. This project meets hardware design goals, and also highly motivates them to use competences learned in others subjects. The learning process, associated to System Design, is hard enough because the students have to deal with parallel execution, signal delay, synchronization … Then, to strengthen the knowledge of hardware design a methodology as project based learning (PBL) is proposed. Moreover, it is also used to reinforce cross subjects like math and software programming. This methodology creates a course dynamics that is closer to a professional environment where they will work with software and mathematics to resolve the hardware design problems. The students design from zero the functionality of the calculator. They are who make the decisions about the math operations that it is able to resolve it, and also the operands format or how to introduce a complex equation into the calculator. This will increase the student intrinsic motivation. In addition, since the choices may have consequences on the reliability of the calculator, students are encouraged to program in software the decisions about how implement the selected mathematical algorithm. Although math and hardware design are two tough subjects for students, the perception that they get at the end of the course is quite positive.
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