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Arduino Fair Results Show Engineering Students' Imagination


JONESBORO – Today's students enjoy technology in many forms, whether it be tablets, smartphones, wearable fitness monitors or many other options.

Rather than just consume technology, engineering students at Arkansas State University are dreaming up new ways to utilize it.

Over the past 14 years, Jason Stewart, director of the civil engineering program, has developed an effective entry-level course, "Concepts of Engineering," for the College of Engineering.  Now the faculty has gone a step further to challenge new students.

"Building on Jason's strong foundation, we have introduced a new, more technically advanced engineering project for our incoming students," said Paul Minor, instructor in engineering.  "This fall semester was the third semester that students were given the Arduino design challenge."

At the center of this design challenge is a small, user-friendly microprocessor/controller called an Arduino UNO.  The challenge consists of an open-ended problem statement for which students have the freedom to define most of their own constraints and criteria for a successful design solution.

"Given the seemingly endless uses for the Arduino UNO, students are given a blank canvas on which to 'paint their masterpieces,' " he continued.  "We truly have had some unique projects created."

This semester's overall winners of the Arduino Fair were freshmen engineering majors Timothy Bevill of Campbell, Mo., Stewart Fey of Hingham, Mass., Thomas Ragland of Morrilton, and Merle Young of Bryant.

"I believe that the Arduino design challenge has our new students engaged and inspired," Minor added.  "It has become an exciting way to introduce students to the concept of engineering design, and has been a means of challenging students in order to learn some of our First-Year Experience core curriculum such as time management, interpersonal skills and study habits."

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