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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2015 / 03 

Engineering researchers receive grant to improve communications engineering education

March 11, 2015

Wireless @ Virginia Tech faculty members have received a National Science Foundation grant aimed at preparing the next generation of engineering students to work in the field of wireless communications.  

Virginia Tech investigators on the two-year $626,000 interdisciplinary project include: Carl Dietrich, principal investigator and research associate professor; Mike Buehrer, professor; and Vuk Marojevic, research associate; all of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Also on the team are: Nicholas Polys, of the research and cluster computing department; Richard Goff, associate professor of engineering education; and Christian Hearn, who obtained his doctorate at Virginia Tech and is now at Weber State University.

The goal of the grant is to reinforce fundamental communication engineering concepts through hands-on interactive sessions.

Students will operate radios in challenging environments that are generated in the internet-accessible, Federal Communications Commission-licensed Cognitive Radio and Network Testbed, which was developed with funding from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Students will receive real-time feedback on their performance in tutorials that help them learn and apply knowledge of fundamental communication system concepts. The tutorials adapt approaches used in game applications to engage students through participation using standard web browsers on PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. 

As an added benefit, students will be introduced to more advanced concepts related to cognitive radio and dynamic spectrum access applications. The intention is to motivate them to pursue graduate study, research, and employment in this area.

Buehrer is also director of Wireless @ Virginia Tech within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Dietrich and Marojevic are core members of Wireless @ Virginia Tech. Polys leads high-performance visualization research and practice in Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing group, the Visionarium Lab, and is a member of the computer science department. 

Taeyoung Yang, another Virginia Tech alumnus, was also a co-principal investigator on this grant before he moved to Intel Corp.

Wireless @ Virginia Tech is one of the largest university wireless research groups in the United States. Now in its 25th year, Wireless @ Virginia Tech encompasses several centers and groups, including the world renowned Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group, Center for Wireless Telecommunications, and Virginia Tech Antenna Group. The researcher center produces high caliber students as future leaders in academia, industry, and government and supports future innovators and developers by refocusing our research efforts to focus on the opportunities as well as the obstacles in newly emerging wireless technology.

Written by Joyce Donathan.

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