School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
ENGRG 1060 Explorations in Engineering
Computer Engineering Unit
Prof. Christopher Batten
237 Phillips Hall • July 14–19, 2013
ENGRG 1060 Explorations in Engineering is a six-week summer course for high-school students interested in learning more about engineering. From 2011 to 2013, the course was taught by Prof. Kathryn Dimiduk from the Cornell Engineering Teaching Excellence Institute. The course was structured around units on specific fields within engineering and included units on mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, and systems engineering. Near the end of the course small groups of students used what they learned to design a closed-loop greenhouse environmental control system. ENGRG 1060 students are usually also enrolled in a college-level math or science course, and ENGRG 1060 is often their first real exposure to engineering.
Over several summers, I developed and led a unit for ENGRG 1060 on computer engineering. This interdisciplinary field is at the interface between hardware and software, and it involves blending the traditional fields of electrical engineering and computer science. Computer engineers are equally comfortable building embedded computers and exploring new sensor circuits as they are programming web applications and analyzing algorithms. Computer engineering has traditionally relied on the remarkable exponential technology scaling of computation, storage, and communication, but recent technology trends suggest that this scaling will likely slow over the next decade. At the same time computing systems are now at the heart of much of our society including the internet, data centers, smartphones, automobiles, medical devices, satellites, robots, digital cameras, wearable activity monitors, and sensor networks. These trends in technology constraints and application requirements make it a particularly exciting time to study the field of computer engineering.
The ENGRG 1060 computer engineering unit included a guest lecture and lab session. The one-hour guest lecture introduced students to the field of computer engineering and and used two active learning exercises to illustrate the challenges involved in multicore processors. The three-hour lab session used an Arduino-based robotic platform to give students hands-on experience exploring the hardware/software interface.