Arduino is a single-board with a built-in micro-controller attached to input/output ports and a bunch of different electronic pieces. It is capable of controlling so many other different hardware devices very easily by just uploading the appropriate code to the board through a user-friendly programming interface.
A few years ago, when I was studying at the University of Aleppo, in Syria, I used to use microcontrollers like PIC or AVR in order to build my projects, because Arduino didn’t exist there. This was taking me a very long time setting up those microcontrollers because they need so many things to be attached to in order to get it work; for instance, they require a couple of different resistors and capacitors, oscillator, proper powering and grounding, and etc. And because of the difficulty of using them, a lot of the students there were trying to avoid any hardware project that requires a microcontroller, or instead, they were using PC simulators for their projects.
My first utilization of Arduino was in a Hackathon competition at Illinois Institute of Technology, where I learned about it, and used it in my robot. I realized how Arduino made my life so much easier, almost just plug and play! It became a habit for me to use it for building stuff; for instance, recently I have used it in two other Hackathons, one of them in the University of Michigan where my team and I built a blood pressure advanced sensing technique, and in the other one, I used it to analyze EEG signals of the brain coming from a sensor. I just do that for fun, and I really enjoy it!
Because of the availability of plenty of different sensors and their APIs, in addition to the variety of other cool stuff like motors, lights, and other actuators that I can connect to an Arduino, I feel that I am capable of applying any idea in my mind and make it real! In fact, those inspirational tools bring about the creative ideas.