Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Exploring the Virgin Territory of Embedded Systems

An embedded system
Photo Credit: PlantAutomation
Consider the following scenarios:
  • Your car has been stolen. How do you track its location?
  • You travel and realise you’ve left your lights on! How do you save energy – and money – by switching off the lights?

The answer to these, and many other similar ones, is embedded systems.
For more on the applications of embedded systems, click here.
Embedded systems are simply specialized computer systems that are part of larger systems or machines
The Kumasi Center for Lifelong Learning-KCLL, seeing the prospects of this industry, organised a 10-day training workshop on embedded systems at the School of Science, KNUST. This was done in partnership with First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics-FASMICRO, Nigeria's largest embedded systems company, and MFriday, a group of mobile technology enthusiasts (made up of students and industry experts).
I'm currently participating in the workshop as a ‘trainee-observer’ (on the request of the KCLL’s Executive Director, Yaw), to see how best to replicate the training on the Catholic University College of Ghana campus.
Participants have so far been introduced to the PIC microchip/microcontroller, FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array, a special type of programmable microprocessor) and taught how to write programs in the Assembler and C languages. They've also been introduced to the USART/UART and USB communication protocol. Some of the mini projects saw participants programming a digital clock, the seven segment display of an LED, a piano, and an LCD.
The last day of the training -- tomorrow -- will be used to highlight the business aspects of embedded systems.
The trainer, Ekele, believes the field is a ‘virgin’ territory in Africa and hopes a lot more people embrace it. He says, “A lot of people are into software, but what is the software going to interact with – hardware.”
It’s been an exciting experience, and I wish a number of institutions in Ghana would set up Microelectronics Training and Development Centers (MTDCs) to train students in this field.
Please let me know what your thoughts are by commenting on this post.


  1. Your Tutorial has been very useful for me in future.By following your scenarios i will create this type of system.

    1. Thanks Valdez.I wish you the best. ;-D