I’m wondering if Arduino can be part of an engineering academic curriculum? Or is it too simple for being a part? What merits does it hold for an institute to include it as part of their curriculum? And at what level can it actually be used?
Of course it can! It is a building block that can be used in many labs all the way from freshman courses (teaching basic electricity and circuit concepts) to senior design projects with multiple Arduinos communicating with each other and/or sensors and actuators.
The merit comes from seeing it as an enabling device for learning. Consider how simple it is, for example, to demonstrate the principle of delivering varying amounts of average power to a load using pulse-width modulation: just use digital pin 13 to vary the brightness of the on-board LED. This is an experiment that can be performed in the students’ own homes – no more need for complicated lab setups and maintenance (at least for this lab!)
This is even a “lab” that can be done in class! Imagine lecturing on the principle of average power and then demonstrating it immediately in class using the Arduino.
Our Gator boards were designed for this type of usage in which ruggedness and tolerance of students’ mistakes ensures the devices last a long time and educators don’t have to worry so much about con$tantly replacing boards that have been destroyed.
Any form of course that depends on monitoring and instrumentation would benefit from using an arduino so the students can see and design their own equipment. So that goes from Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology in fact most things in the science discipline.
Massimo Banzi said in the FLOSS episode on Arduino that it was developed so that university kids could easily build them themselves and were cheap, the analogy was - miss pizza one night and get an arduino.