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A Modular Approach To Teaching “Wireless Communications And Systems” For Ecet Students

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Systems Approach to Teaching ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.60.1 - 10.60.13



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Paper Authors

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Robert Adams

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Ken Burbank

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James Zhang

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

Session 1649

A Modular Approach to Teaching “Wireless Communications and Systems” for ECET Students

James Z. Zhang, Robert Adams, Kenneth Burbank Department of Engineering and Technology Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723


Recent development in wireless technologies has generated a high demand for wireless com- munications professionals. Rigorous math background is needed for students to fully understand wireless communications system fundamentals. However, Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) students generally do not have such a math background to digest concepts and analyze issues associated with wireless communications. It is a better approach to focus on a point-to-point wireless system through experiential exploration, and extend the knowledge to wireless communications systems in general.

There are different educational training stations available to help achieve educational goals in wireless communications. However, these educational trainers have their obvious shortcomings, which include: (1) most of them transmit at relatively low frequencies (in one hundred MHz range), while most of contemporary communications systems transmit in GHz range; (2) most of them are built as systems and it is hard for students to test module parameters; (3) most of them are costly and it is not affordable for many schools to purchase enough units to satisfy their lab needs.

This article presents our on-going efforts of developing a modular approach to teaching a senior level “Wireless Communications and Systems” course. Mini-Circuits R RF modules are used for function block testing and system implementation. The emphasis is on the Radio Frequency (RF) modules of a communications system such as modulator, demodulator, Voltage-Controlled- Oscillator (VCO) and Frequency Mixer. The operating frequency is set at 900 MHz. Performance issues specific to wireless communications such as large and small scale fading effects are also addressed.


The arrival of 3G cellular systems, 802.11x wireless computer networks, Bluetooth R , and other wireless technologies has made wireless communications a field of its own over the past 10 to 15 years. Rapid development of wireless technologies such as wireless sensor networks, “lastmile”

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright c 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Adams, R., & Burbank, K., & Zhang, J. (2005, June), A Modular Approach To Teaching “Wireless Communications And Systems” For Ecet Students Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15604

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