Educator Highlight: Mark Yoder, Trailblazer in Teaching Embedded Linux

It came naturally to Dr Yoder to want to bring the new concept of Open Source Embedded Linux Computing to his students using the BeagleBoard®

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Professor Mark Yoder knows what it’s like to introduce the latest embedded computing concepts, hardware and software into a classroom of curious students. He’s been teaching students for 30 years at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the top Electrical and Computer Engineering undergraduate program (in their category) in the US. So, when the original® BeagleBoard® was revealed ten years ago at an Educators Conference, it came naturally to Dr Yoder to want to bring the new concept of Open Source Embedded Linux Computing to his students.

Hands-On Projects for Students

Yoder got his hands on one of the first boards, joined the community, learned how to communicate with IRC and dove into the world of Open Source Linux. The first class he taught with BeagleBoard® was in the spring of 2010.  The students and he learned the new techniques together. The flexibility of having a full Linux PC in the palm of their hands excited the students and the creativity blossomed.

Once Professor Yoder recognized the potential of this new platform and the concepts learned in both programming, circuits and project management – he wanted to spread the news beyond his own campus and went global.  Mark went to teach at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi India.  He found students learned more than just programming and electrical engineering through the hands on projects, they learned important collaboration skills by working with the open source community.

“The® community is rich with examples and guidance. My students and I contribute, and, sharing our course and project materials in the open source not only helps others, it helps us become better engineers.”  Mark Yoder

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Teaching Teachers

Mark’s passion for teaching with® based development platforms grew beyond his own classrooms and he began to teach workshops to other educators. At various conferences around the world from Prague to India, Dr Yoder has connected with other educators and mentored them, sharing success tips for overcoming the challenges of introducing new hardware and software into curriculum. His workshop teaching methods with each new® based platform, from BeagleBoard-xM® to BeagleBone® Black to BeagleBone® Blue for Robotics (and soon PocketBeagle®) have been fun and engaging for himself and his workshop attendees. His goal in each workshop is to give attendees a hands on boot-up experience within 15 minutes of being seated and hands on labs throughout, bringing experiential learning and fun to the educational experience. Mark’s enthusiasm has reached hundreds of educators directly in workshops and many more through his online materials.

Prof. T. Boobalan from Easwar College of Engineering, Coimbatore, spoke about the lessons from one such workshop. “I feel confident about using embedded Linux since I have actually spent time doing experiments during hands-on sessions,”

In the true spirit of open source, you can find all of Mark’s teaching materials from his course as well as his workshop materials online.
Dr Yoder’s BeagleBoard® Education Workshop Materials
Embedded Linux Course Materials from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Dr Yoder’s 3 tips for introducing new systems into your classroom
5383.2013_ASEE_Beaglebone workshop Prof Yoder demos