Microcontrollers Workshop

On Friday, December 1, the Operations and Information Management (OPIM) Department held it’s last workshop of the semester on Microcontroller Applications. Microcontrollers are small circuit boards that have the computer power to perform different tasks. There are three common brands of microcontrollers, including Raspberry Pi, Arduinos, and Intel Edisons. Although the OPIM Department has all three types, this workshop used Raspberry Pis to enhance the hands on experience of the activities. So far there have a number of versions of Raspberry Pis manufactured and each version has gotten better over time adding additional hardware and features including wireless and Bluetooth technology. Microcontrollers are so open ended, anyone can benefit from their use.

“Raspberry Pi is a system that that has unlimited possibilities,” said Dongyeop Han, a junior Management Information Systems (MIS) major. Coding on a Raspberry Pi can be used for a variety of different things. Some common uses are smart displays, home security, computer security, computer vision, robotics, Internet of Things and facial recognition. In the workshop, adjunct professor Ryan O’Connor used the Raspberry Pis to control smart light bulbs by turning them on and off, and changing their color. O’Connor also used the raspberry pis to monitor and gather data on the air quality in the Gladstein Lab through the Awair Smart Monitor. O’Connor stated that people who like to innovate and tinker with things benefit the most from microcontrollers. “It is also a low cost alternative to a computer, so if you’re not doing something super complex you can just have a raspberry pie to browse the web, said Nathan Hom, a junior Management and Engineering for Manufacturing (MEM) major. The workshop allowed each participant to get hands on experience with a Raspberry Pi and play around with the different features available.

Although this workshop highlights the many applications for Raspberry Pi microcontrollers we are seeing a big increase in their use across businesses. Tasks like measuring amounts of gas in fuel tanks or controlling large number of smart devices have become popular as use cases in industry.