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A Comprehensive, Laboratory Enhanced Communications Curriculum

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.22.1 - 9.22.8



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Paper Authors

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Jeff Frolik

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1526

A Comprehensive, Laboratory-Enhanced Communications Curriculum

Jeff Frolik

University of Vermont


Over the past decade, the field of wireless communications has come into its own and is posed to become a ubiquitous technology with the recent arrival of 3G cellular, wireless local area networks and wireless sensor networks. As such, today’s graduating electrical engineers need marketable skills which are typically not developed in undergraduate curricula. This paper presents ongoing activities at the University of Vermont (UVM) which address this need through significant enhancements in the undergraduate communications curriculum offered by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE). The emphasis of these enhancements lies in the integration of hands-on experience in three typically, theory-based telecommunication courses and a separate laboratory course having a wireless communications focus. The enhancements, enabled by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Adaptation and Implementation (A&I) Track award and university support, features infrastructure development in terms of radio frequency (RF) and digital communications test equipment. This paper describes the new communications curriculum at UVM, resources upon which the curriculum enhancements were based, the development of two new instructional laboratory benches and the adaptation of laboratory assignments to enhance the new curriculum. UVM’s ECE program is relatively small (~100 undergraduates) and thus the presented approach may serve a model for similarly sized departments.

Curriculum Development

Prior to this project’s inception, UVM’s offering of undergraduate telecommunication courses was limited to a junior-level Intro to Communication Systems course and a self-study laboratory course (Senior Lab II) based on Feedback Instruments Ltd.’s computer based training equipment 1. Beginning in Fall 2002, the telecommunication curriculum was restructured due to the hiring of the author whose background is in wireless systems. To emphasize the starting point for this project, it was the author’s startup resources which purchased the department’s first spectrum analyzer (a hand-held Anritsu MS2711B). In short, the opportunity and challenge presented to the author was to develop a comprehensive undergraduate experience in wireless and digital communication systems from near-scratch given the limited resources of a small department. In doing so, the foremost goal was to provide students with both theoretical background and practical experience using modern test equipment.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Frolik, J. (2004, June), A Comprehensive, Laboratory Enhanced Communications Curriculum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13088

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