APSC160 Open-Source Hardware/Software Laboratory Re-fit

Project TitleAPSC160 open-source hardware/software laboratory re-fit
Principal InvestigatorCristian Grecu
FacultyApplied Science
Funding Year2022
Project SummaryAPSC160 (Introduction to Computation in Engineering Design) is an introductory course in C-language programming that all APSC students are required to take in their first year at UBCV. The course is jointly run by CS (Computer Science) and ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) instructors, and include a laboratory component where students are asked to solve programming assignments. The laboratory component of the second part of the course (taught typically by an ECE instructor) introduces students to applications of C programming using real-world hardware and software.

Currently, the hardware and software components of the laboratory are based on proprietary components from a commercial entity. The software in particular is based on drivers and libraries that are not readily accessible, and are also more than five years old. These drivers and libraries were developed for older versions of the typical operating systems that students use (Windows, MacOS), and with Microsoft and Apple releasing periodical updates and newer versions of their OS’s, we see compatibility issues hindering students’ access to laboratory equipment (e.g. MacOS is not compatible with the laboratory drivers starting with the Catalina version, and we expect compatibility issues related to Windows 11).

This project intends to replace the proprietary hardware and software in the APSC160 laboratory with Arduino-based components, while maintaining unchanged the part of the course syllabus covered in the lab. Arduino is an open source electronics design platform, compatible with all major computer operating systems (Windows, MacOS, Linux), and is not tied to a single vendor. Using Arduino will come with the advantages of better documentation, larger user-base, more transferable skills learned by students, no need for proprietary manuals or software, and a clear and sustainable maintenance and upgrade path for the laboratory equipment and content (thanks to Arduino’s open source ecosystem).

In the proposed implementation, there are zero costs for students to access the learning materials, including the hardware components provided in the laboratory room (currently CEME2212).
Grant type OER Implementation
Funded Amount $16,812