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A Milestone Driven Rf Electronics Course For Engineering Technology

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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

New Electrical ET Course Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.65.1 - 9.65.10

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Paper Authors

author page

Walter E. Thain Jr.

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

Session 2548

A Milestone-Driven RF Electronics Course for Engineering Technology Walter E. Thain, Jr. Southern Polytechnic State University


A unique radio-frequency (RF) electronics course was introduced in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) Department at Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU). The course was adapted from a two-quarter version currently taught at the California Institute of Technology. Significant modifications were necessary to tailor the course to a single-semester format. Based on the construction and extensive testing of a transceiver with a 7 MHz carrier frequency, the course at SPSU not only tied together concepts students learned in previous courses, but challenged them to see how these principles are applied to practical RF systems. The course also required students to refine their laboratory testing techniques in order to make measurements of sufficient accuracy necessary to quantify the transceiver performance. The course was structured around major milestones at the end of which students must have completed a specified portion of the transceiver construction and testing. After the final milestone, students had a working transceiver.

I. Introduction

With the rapid growth in RF wireless communications systems, it is important that Electrical Engineering Technology programs provide curricula to meet industry demand for graduates with experience in this area. Wireless communications systems consist of transmitter and receiver signal processing subsystems of varying complexity. Wireless system complexity and the diversity in signal modulation techniques used make it impossible to provide a student with sufficient background in one or two courses. Courses in this field usually take either the system- level approach or the circuit-level approach. In the system-level approach, theory behind the transmitter and receiver signal processing is presented with little attention given to the actual circuits that perform these functions. In the circuit-level approach, more detail is presented regarding the design of circuits such as modulators, oscillators, filters, demodulators, and matching networks. Circuit-level courses may even discuss design techniques for particular frequency ranges such as VHF or microwave.

Unfortunately, no matter what approach is taken, wireless communications courses usually do not discuss complete, operational receiver and transmitter systems. The RF Transceivers course discussed here provides this crucial element by involving students with the fabrication and testing of a complete transmitter and receiver unit (transceiver). Thus, students learn transceiver design principles at the system level and the circuit level. The transceiver circuit is an amateur-

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

Thain Jr., W. E. (2004, June), A Milestone Driven Rf Electronics Course For Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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