School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Student Owned Embedded Systems Design Kit

All ECE undergraduates purchase an embedded systems design kit that has been used in required undergraduate classes for laboratory projects for the past three years. The embedded design projects created with these kits integrate an industry standard ARM processor which is found in 99% of all smartphones and tablets with a variety of hardware components, including an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a color micro-LCD display, a speaker, and a micro-SD card. Using these kits with their laptop PC, students develop software, download it to the ARM processor and power small prototypes of embedded devices.

Currently the embedded systems design kit is used in ECE 2035 Programming for Hardware/Software Systems, ECE 2036 Engineering Software Design, and ECE 4180 Embedded Systems Design by approximately 700 students per year.


Student Breadboard Project built using kit

Students can work anywhere with a laptop and Wi Fi

The embedded design kit can support networking for the Internet of Things (IoT), USB devices, and all standard I/O and sensor interfaces. Student design projects are typically developed in C/C++ supported by a free cloud compiler that runs in any web browser on any PC without installing software. ARM Assembly Language can also be used for computer architecture courses. A free optional Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) can easily be added to projects with one include line. Extensive Wiki pages provide numerous code and wiring examples, documentation, and videos. Unlike many of the older and less capable hobbyist grade microcontroller kits, the same software tools and devices found in the kit are being widely used in industry to increase productivity by providing rapid prototyping support for the development of new complex embedded devices.


Student projects shown above include a Pac Man game using the accelerometer, an IoT Alarm Clock with networking, an iPod-like music & video player, a Nest-like thermostat using the temperature sensor, and a Missile Command game using pushbuttons. A large assortment of additional student projects from Georgia Tech can be found at:

The mbed design kit ( allows students to build prototypes of ARM embedded devices on a breadboard. This commercial kit is based on the parts used for several years in ECE at Georgia Tech for the student owned embedded systems design kit. The developer handbook and cookbook contains working code examples and complete documentation.


       Supports the development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices

       Uses free ARM/Keil C++ cloud compiler that runs in any web browser.

       Easy to use C++ classes support I/O devices, networking, and RTOS threads.

       Extensive Wiki documentation eliminates need for hardcopy manuals and textbook.

       USB cable downloads code and powers breadboard.

       Kit pricing is in the range of current textbooks.

       No soldering or distribution of any other parts is required for labs.

       Education pricing is available for schools

       Offline compiler license is also available for schools from the ARM University Program


The mbed design kit from Sparkfun contains:

1.      ARM NXP1768 mbed module with USB cable

2.      Ethernet magjack breakout and cable for IoT networking applications

3.      Smart 128 by 128 Color LCD display

4.      4G Micro SD card, breakout and USB Micro SD adapter

5.      Speaker with driver transistor and audio jack breakout

6.      USB A and B breakout

7.      RGB LED and four pushbuttons

8.      Analog Temperature Sensor

9.      MEMs I2C Digital Accelerometer

10.   Breadboard and jumper wires