In
pursuing my engineering projects, I have undoubtedly encountered obstacles; a design
that did not work as anticipated at first, a grant that fell through, a
professor review that identified a flaw in my approach or a group member that
was not cooperative. My biggest obstacle was developing a Vending Machine
Software/logical design in a team of four students. This task proved daunting
as the project required a set of programming skills that we didn’t have. The
first step we agreed on was to develop a study schedule. We planned the project
priorities which factored learning C and Perl on a steep curve since we had
only four weeks to complete the design. We also divided the roles amongst
ourselves based on our capabilities. The first week we spent most of the time
trying to understand what previous students had done while trying to adapt
their ideas. This proved equally tough as our project specification was
Verilog.

After
the first week to no avail, our files had multiple syntax, semantic and logical
errors. We collectively agreed that we needed to obtain support from graduate
assistants and learning assistants on the instructional aspect of the design.
We also needed to have access to FPGA boards frequently in order to test our
prototypes. Through the group contributions, we were able to acquire a Xilinx
FPGA boards and the access codes from the professor. After a couple of visits
to the professor’s office, we learned that we could develop, test and implement
the design through Vivaldo applications. This was an eye-opener. I committed 2
hours every day to learn Verilog and by the second week we had begun to see a
lot of progress in our design, the outputs were responsive to our inputs on the
hardware. We eventually scaled up the design to meet large-scale needs before
presenting our results to the rest of the class. It was mesmerizing when the
design met all the deliverables in an exemplary manner. All in all, through
persistence and hard work, surmounting these obstacles lead to greater
understanding, stronger design, and great team effort and generally better
results.

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