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Topic: Arduino - A way to get into Computer Engineering? (Read 8072 times) previous topic - next topic


Hi, my name is Marqie and I'm just graduating out of high school and I was wondering if getting an Arduino would be a good way for me to start learning computer engineering and programming. Like are the skills transferable to some of the more wide-spread techniques used in modern technology or is it a more specific hobby type of unit?

I would really appreciate help :)


Yes. I started programming with Basic way back in high school. Learning C and some basic engineering skills from Arduino will do you well.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.



The most obvious transferable skill is going to be understanding basic electronics.  You might pick up the basics of how the internals of processors work.  You will learn how to debug (both hardware and software) which is invaluable in almost any situation (not just computer engineering.)

When I was in high school, I built TI-85 PC-adapters.  This lead me to an electronics class where I built a Sumo-robot, among other cool little projects.  My direction was pretty much set from there.  I went to college for Electrical Engineering and focused on RF design.  However, I had a knack for programming so I always enjoyed microcontroller projects.  (I spent 3 months as a design engineering intern and then took a career in sales.)

These days I can built prototype circuits, design my own PC boards, have learned enough ME to design enclosures, write Assembly code, program micros in C, and do PC-side applications in Cocoa or C#.  (This of course doesn't even get creating SQL databases and writing un-readable PHP and Perl code.)

Part of why I tell the story is because the path you choose doesn't really matter.  The Arduino is an excellent starting point if you have any interest in anything related to electronics.  
Capacitor Expert By Day, Enginerd by night.  ||  Personal Blog: www.baldengineer.com  || Electronics Tutorials for Beginners:  www.addohms.com



I took Data Processing in College.  I had separate courses in different things and because computers have changed, the syllabus has changed and it looks totally different today than when I went to school.

Microcontrollers is a little harder than just learning programming.  It incorporates mechanics and electronics along with programming.  You are juggling more than one thing at a time while learning.

I think the Arduino might be easier to learn than other micro controllers because there are a lot of tutorials and a lot of people are just doing it.  There is a lot of help here.

I think the Arduino is a step.  The Arduino uses a bootloader which makes Microcontrollers more easier to use than some of the other stuff out there.  I've also seen people graduate from the Arduino to more complex Microcontrollers.

"Are the skills transferable to some of the more wide-spread techniques used in modern technology?"

I learned Basic at home.  I then learned Basic in High School.  I learned Basic again in college.  I took some Assembly and I took Pascal, etc.  When you take more than one computer language, you learn how to do the same thing differently and you become more fluent.  Programming takes practice and the more you do it the more you get better at it.  I can say that you have to practice because you can know how to do things but then there are people who are a little more sophisticated at doing the same thing.

I've been in college where it was a bad environment and the teachers tell you to do something instead of how to do it.  There were a lot of students asking for help because they had no idea what to do.  I think the Arduino is basic and if you can make it here then you can probably make it anywhere.  I have a friend who recommended that I learn the Arduino first because it is supposed to be one of the easiest.

The worst way to learn is from some of these Engineers who teach at a different level.  They would take what you need to learn out of sequential order and put it into alphabetical order because their job is to write and to make large manuals.  Someone who has experience can understand it but it doesn't aid people starting out which makes their job more important because they are again needed.

You basically want to start out by blinking an LED (Light Emitting Diode) and then you will have an understanding.



Man, you guys are easily the most informative group of people I've encountered so far. Seems like I'll be getting myself one soon!

Thank you so much!


Man, you guys are easily the most informative group of people I've encountered so far. Seems like I'll be getting myself one soon!

The combined knowlege and experiance of members in this forum is impressive. But do watch out for lightning bolts thrown by god members in disagreement from time to time. And also always keep in mind: http://xkcd.com/386/



But do watch out for lightning bolts thrown by god members in disagreement

Sometimes, god members disagreeing with each other is a great way to learn stuff...

But don't get too upset if they disagree with you.


Jan 18, 2011, 11:30 pm Last Edit: Jan 18, 2011, 11:40 pm by Darkknight512 Reason: 1
I think the Arduino is a great way to get into Comp eng. I'm in high school myself (currently gr 11), I'm mostly playing with the Arduino for fun, but I learned most of the stuff I'm practicing with the Arduino from my high schools robotics team (FRC team 3375). I was the only guy on the team that knew C++ and enough electronics to get the thing working, the team was relatively small with 10-12 people working on the mechanical side of it, and me working on the electrical and programming. It was my first time wiring up a robot and I must say, if I played with an Arduino before that time, I would have been able to throw that together quickly.

I learned to keep my wires organized and labeled from playing with the robot, I was so rushed while still learning everything (it was my first electronics project!) that I just connected everything without keeping myself organized... big mistake.

My experience with robotics is very similar to my experience with my Arduino. Whichever one happened first I would have probably learned all the same things. The only difference was the scale.

However now that I have played with fast PLC's (400 mhz PowerPC I think, it was a National Instruments box) with hundreds of inputs and outputs and seemingly unlimited amount of ram and built in multitasking. It's great getting an Arduino and learning to work within constraints of 2 kb of ram and 32 kb of flash.  :P

I cannot thank the school and school board enough for pretty much letting the team play with 10 grand worth of equipment for free. It was defiantly the most fun and rewarding thing I have done in my life so far.

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