July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Electrical and Computer
We discuss the design, challenges, and outcomes of a unique course that was created and taught twice so far, which introduces CS undergraduates in their senior year to the area of wireless communications, in a hands-on manner using low-cost Software-Defined Radios (SDRs). During this course, students learn basic wireless communications and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) concepts, and how to implement the techniques onto SDRs. Additional course learning objectives include digital signals, filtering, frequency domain, digital modulation, noisey channels, cellular, and IoT. The course utilizes open-source SDR toolkit software including GNU Radio and Python libraries, allowing students more interesting and engaging assignments/exercises and more advanced concepts to be explored. What is unique about this course is that this material is typically taught at the graduate level within ECE, spread across numerous individual courses. CS students, at least at our university, do not get exposed to any DSP or signals background which is normally required to learn about SDR using traditional methods/textbooks, so they must start from scratch, which is why this course has heavy use of graphics, animations, and examples. As such, this course does not dive as deep into the mathematics behind the theory as a normal graduate level ECE course would. There is much more emphasis on “learning by doing”, and actually creating SDR applications. To date, this course has been taught twice, and we found that the CS students who were interested in networking and cyber security obtained a much better appreciation of the “lower layers” of wireless communications systems, which made them more well-rounded when entering the work world. In addition, all of the students obtained a much better appreciation of the RF devices and signals that exist all around us, including ones they use in everyday life. By exploring “signals in the wild” with their SDRs, they realized that there is an invisible dimension that exists all around us, which most people are not aware of. Student-provided course feedback for both years was overwhelmingly positive!
Lichtman, M., & Collins, T. F., & Getz, R. (2021, July), Design and Outcome of a Course on Software-defined Radio Within the Computer Science Department Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36913
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