Getting ready for testing embedded software for developers

In embedded software, Teaching, testing on January 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm

After a couple of months of reading about embedded systems on-an-off and how to go about testing them, I’m finally done procrastinating and putting together the course (with a whole two months to spare). This should be fun, and a good course that we can build upon. This particular one is specifically for corporate education at WPI. There are companies out there who are really eager to get their developers trained in testing techniques for the systems they’re building. I think it will be fun, and it will also help me improve the standard testing course that I’ve offered a couple of times.

I’ve chosen a couple of good books for this course, which is a graduate-level course. The first is Introduction to Software Testing by Ammann and Offutt. This is a really nice book that covers testing with just enough theory and a lot of practical advice. I think it will appeal to developers quite nicely.

Cover of the text book


The second book is Test Driven Development for Embedded C by Jim Grenning. This is the book that I’m learning a lot about embedded systems development. Combining this with the previous book should make for a great course. Of course, I need to go back and remember some of the dirty little corners of C and C++, but it should be fun.

Cover of Test Driven Development for Embedded C


The course will not be simply learning the theory and practice, but putting the knowledge to work by working on projects. Projects make things interesting, but somewhat difficult for a course like this. The students will be practicing software engineers who are already working on embedded code so the challenge will be to try and simulate enough of a real system without the complexity and size of industrial systems. I’m not sure how this will work, but I think it’s possible to make interesting and reasonably challenging problems.

I’ve decided for the first offering to use the Arduino board for the main development hardware. I’d like to incorporate different things like Sun SPOTs and the Neuron Robotics DyIO, but not right now. Maybe these will go into a future offering.


The hardware

The other challenge is how I’m going to talk and keep a class interested for four hours at a clip. I’d rather two days a week, but that’s not possible right now. The last time I did a four hour course was one summer teaching foundations of computer science. I bored myself to death.

  1. […] today and want to get started understanding it so I can build enough examples and exercises for the Testing Embedded Software for Developers class. The Arduino is much more low level than the Neuron Robotics DyIO, but it’s much less […]

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