Educator Highlight: Steven F. Barrett, Author, Embedded Systems Educator and Beagle Lover

Prof. Mark Yoder, Cathy Wicks, Jason Kridner and Prof. Steven F Barrett

Steven F. Barrett, professor of ECE and Associate Dean for Academic Programs at the University of Wyoming has been writing educational journal articles and textbooks for use in microcontroller and embedded systems courses for over 13 years.  A prolific and inspired writer, Dr Barrett has written 12 books using many different microcontroller architectures including AVR, HC12/S12, and MSP430.  When he was introduced to BeagleBoard.org® in 2012, the BeagleBone® Black was in the planning stages.   Intrigued by the capabilities of a fully Open Source Hardware Linux PC the size of a mint tin becoming available at a price that could enable educational labs, Steve was hooked.  “Boris” the charming BeagleBoard.org®  beagle mascot, also helped seal the deal since Steve loves beagle dogs and had two “grand beagles”.

Bringing the Power of BeagleBone® into the Classroom

Writing a textbook is a labor of love and the original work behind the book “Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronic Systems with BeagleBone Black” (S. Barrett & J. Kridner, Morgan-Claypool Publishers, 2015.) grew into a full size academic instructional textbook.  Now in it’s second edition, the work covers getting started with the basics of using BeagleBone® Black in a classroom, all the way to complete exercises centered on motivational, fun robot projects.  Not only does Dr Barrett enjoy working with powerful technology, but also the camaraderie of working with a co-author. By working with BeagleBoard.org® co-founder, Jason Kridner, he tapped into not one, but an entire community of experts on embedded Linux software.  This helped Steve with his goal to write a book that would lower the barriers for both faculty and students moving up from developing with a microcontroller to using the embedded Linux processor environment.

Expanding Easy Access For Students through e-Libraries

Steve’s approach to the book provided a great way for students to have access to the materials for free.  By partnering with Morgan & Claypool Publishers and writing the book as part of the Synthesis Lectures on Digital Circuits and Systems series, Barrett gives electronic access to the work to thousands of students globally.   Morgan & Claypool’s mission to create “next generation” digital information products provides simple pricing with perpetual access at academic institutions.  Students whose schools subscribe to a series have unlimited access to all of the e-books in that series.  Morgan & Claypool also offers print and eBooks to anyone who may not have academic access.

Prof. Steven F Barrett explains BeagleBone® “capes” while wearing a cape at an ASEE workshop

Sharing New Ideas for Building Tomorrow’s STEM Careers

While the demands of administration, teaching and his research work fill his schedule, Steve, a former active duty faculty member of the United States Air Force Academy, has always made time to write and build community. From his “Little Book on Teaching, A Beginner’s Guide for Educators of Engineering and Applied Science”, also available from Morgan & Claypool Publishers, to his involvement in the American Society of Engineering Education, Steve continues to be a leader in mentoring other faculty with creative and sound teaching methods.   In 2013, along with Jason Kridner and Dr Mark Yoder, he taught the first ASEE BeagleBone Hands-On Workshop.  Participants dove in head first building circuits and coding BeagleBone and like Steve, leveraged the user-friendly development environment and community to quickly build their confidence.  Experiential teaching methods are his passion and Steve is constantly finding new ways to engage students.  His 2018 presentation at the annual ASEE Conference was no exception  – taking a lead in hands-on learning methods to spark student innovation, creativity, design and entrepreneurship: –  Library and Student Innovation Center: Makerspace!

You’ll find more information about his work and contact information on Dr Barrett’s home page
http://www.uwyo.edu/electrical/faculty-staff/steven-barrett/

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