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This content will become publicly available on July 26, 2022

Title: Work in Progress: Interactive Introductory Online Modules on Wireless Communications and Radio-frequency Spectrum Sharing
1. Description of the objectives and motivation for the contribution to ECE education The demand for wireless data transmission capacity is increasing rapidly and this growth is expected to continue due to ongoing prevalence of cellular phones and new and emerging bandwidth-intensive applications that encompass high-definition video, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), intelligent transportation systems (ITS) including autonomous vehicles, and others. Meanwhile, vital military and public safety applications also depend on access to the radio frequency spectrum. To meet these demands, the US federal government is beginning to move from the proven but inefficient model of exclusive frequency assignments to a more-efficient, shared-spectrum approach in some bands of the radio frequency spectrum. A STEM workforce that understands the radio frequency spectrum and applications that use the spectrum is needed to further increase spectrum efficiency and cost-effectiveness of wireless systems over the next several decades to meet anticipated and unanticipated increases in wireless data capacity. 2. Relevant background including literature search examples if appropriate CISCO Systems’ annual survey indicates continued strong growth in demand for wireless data capacity. Meanwhile, undergraduate electrical and computer engineering courses in communication systems, electromagnetics, and networks tend to emphasize mathematical and theoretical fundamentals and higher-layer protocols, with less more » focus on fundamental concepts that are more specific to radio frequency wireless systems, including the physical and media access control layers of wireless communication systems and networks. An efficient way is needed to introduce basic RF system and spectrum concepts to undergraduate engineering students in courses such as those mentioned above who are unable to, or had not planned to take a full course in radio frequency / microwave engineering or wireless systems and networks. We have developed a series of interactive online modules that introduce concepts fundamental to wireless communications, the radio frequency spectrum, and spectrum sharing, and seek to present these concepts in context. The modules include interactive, JavaScript-based simulation exercises intended to reinforce the concepts that are presented in the modules through narrated slide presentations, text, and external links. Additional modules in development will introduce advanced undergraduate and graduate students and STEM professionals to configuration and programming of adaptive frequency-agile radios and spectrum management systems that can operate efficiently in congested radio frequency environments. Simulation exercises developed for the advanced modules allow both manual and automatic control of simulated radio links in timed, game-like simulations, and some exercises will enable students to select from among multiple pre-coded controller strategies and optionally edit the code before running the timed simulation. Additionally, we have developed infrastructure for running remote laboratory experiments that can also be embedded within the online modules, including a web-based user interface, an experiment management framework, and software defined radio (SDR) application software that runs in a wireless testbed initially developed for research. Although these experiments rely on limited hardware resources and introduce additional logistical considerations, they provide additional realism that may further challenge and motivate students. 3. Description of any assessment methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of the contribution, Each set of modules is preceded and followed by a survey. Each individual module is preceded by a quiz and followed by another quiz, with pre- and post-quiz questions drawn from the same pool. The pre-surveys allow students to opt in or out of having their survey and quiz results used anonymously in research. 4. Statement of results. The initial modules have been and are being used by three groups of students: (1) students in an undergraduate Introduction to Communication Systems course; (2) an interdisciplinary group of engineering students, including computer science students, who are participating in related undergraduate research project; and (3) students in a graduate-level communications course that includes both electrical and computer engineers. Analysis of results from the first group of students showed statistically significant increases from pre-quiz to post-quiz for each of four modules on fundamental wireless communication concepts. Results for the other students have not yet been analyzed, but also appear to show substantial pre-quiz to post-quiz increases in mean scores. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1642873 1629935 1432416
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10314738
Journal Name:
ASEE Annual Conference proceedings
ISSN:
1524-4644
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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