Microcontroller Systems for Engineers becomes mandatory in BTEC

 

From September, institutions delivering the BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Engineering will be required to deliver the mandatory unit 6 ‘Microcontroller Systems for Engineers’ to their students. This is a huge change and now see’s hundreds of learning centres, who have no previous experience of delivering microcontroller teaching faced with a dilemma in the months ahead.

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Matrix are proud to announce that Pearson have listed us as an approved software and hardware provider through our Flowcode and E-blocks range for this specific unit. Whilst, the online documentation is amended to reflect this, we thought it would be good to tell you about our plans for the exciting development.

Following the announcement, you can find below, details of six free seminars taking place across the UK during March and April, designed to inform you how you can use Flowcode and E-blocks to deliver this brand new unit.  For more information, visit the training page of our website and get in touch with us today to reserve your place by emailing helend@matrixtsl.com.

  • Wednesday 23 March 2016 – London
  • Wednesday 13 April 2016 – Birmingham
  • Wednesday 20 April 2016 – Halifax
  • Wednesday 27 April 2016 – Belfast

The seminars will begin at 11am with a two hour focus on Matrix’s new Electrical Installation solutions (designed for City & Guilds units 7202 & 2365), before focus switches to focus on the BTEC unit 6 from around 1:30pm. Delegates can attend free of charge but must inform us of their intention to do so ASAP to avoid disappointment. Places are limited to two per institution and delegates can choose to arrive at either 11am for the mornin session, 1:30pm for the afternoon session or come along for the whole day.

Scott Wilkins of Pearson said:

“We are pleased to announce that Matrix hardware and software will be acceptable for unit 6 in the new BTEC National in Engineering and online documents will be updated with this in mind shortly”


 

We are now used to technology changing our lives and the trend continues at a pace. The two huge changes we are in the middle of at the moment are the surge in robotics and the increase in the number of systems and devices that are interconnected.

  • Currently robots perform around 10% of all manufacturing tasks in the USA. In 10 years time this will have risen to 25% as robots become cheaper and more capable. This will not just be in manufacturing cars but in agriculture, medicine and construction. (Forbes magazine July 15)
  • By 2020 25 billion ‘things’ will be connected together over the internet: often referred to as the ‘Internet Of Things’. (Gartner)

Of course the changes around us are having an effect on the skills that industry needs in order to help us develop and maintain the products and services we need. This in turn is forcing governments and educators to change the courses that they provide for students, and in turn Matrix has to change its product portfolio to provide educators with the resources they need to teach students. The central theme of these changes is that in engineering all students now need to understand how the systems they design will be controlled and monitored with technology.

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An example of a university engineering project in France using Flowcode & E-blocks

In Europe the French government led the way a few years ago with their new syllabus for their Lycees Technique schools. In the four strands of Electronic engineering, Mechanical engineering, Energy and Environment and Architecture/Civil all students now have to undertake a course in microcontroller programming and system development.

In the UK we are now following suit: Pearson’s popular BTEC National Extended Diploma syllabus specifies that students from electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, automotive engineering, aeronautical engineering and manufacturing engineering all have to undertake a programme of study of 120 hours in developing microcontroller systems.

This is really exciting for us: some years ago we predicted that non–electronic engineers would need to start to develop systems based on microcontrollers and we came up with a list of 5 requirements for the next generation of development tools that both engineers and students would need:

  1. Software tools to develop code for both electronic and mechanical systems
  2. Software/hardware combinations that allow customers to monitor a system and prove it is functioning
  3. Software would need libraries of code for all core system building blocks and hardware and software would need to be tightly integrated to provide ease of use
  4. Software would need to be open architecture and work on many platforms
  5. Electromechanical simulation should be available to shorten design cycles and improve the developing and learning experience

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The latest version of Flowcode and E-blocks provides all of these:

  • Flowcode is a high level language based on flow charts: all engineers can easily learn it and develop complex electronic systems with it.
  • The latest E-blocks ‘motherboards’ include Ghost technology so that users can monitor the signals on a microcontroller and decode serial communications waveforms into meaningful data.
  • Flowcode is tightly integrated with E-blocks hardware: every hardware module has a ‘driver’ with pre-prepared software routines that make it easier to use. Flowcode is compatible with
  • Arduino, PIC and ARM microcontrollers and programs can be transferred between platforms.
  • Flowcode can simulate both electrical and mechanical systems and can be integrated with mechanical design packages like Solidworks.

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If you would like further information please do not hesitate to either get in touch with us here at Matrix, or book on to one of our free seminars during March and April by clicking here.

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