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Development Of A Communications Course Integrating A Virtual Laboratory And Complex Simulations

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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

Electrical & Computer Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.453.1 - 10.453.10

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Paper Authors

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Virgilio Gonzalez

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Ahmed Musa

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Mehdi Shadaram

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

Development of a Communications Course Integrating a Virtual Laboratory and Complex Simulations

Virgilio Gonzalez, Ahmed Musa Assistant Professor/ Student, ECE, University of Texas at El Paso Mehdi Shadaram Professor and Chairman, EE, University of Texas at San Antonio

Abstract Faculty in the Electrical Engineering Department at UTEP created a new course in communications to complement the preparation of students in advanced technologies. They implemented a cost-effective solution by the construction of a computer-based laboratory for modeling and simulation of communication systems linked with a customized lecture. The course included approaches such as cooperative learning to enhance students' problem-solving and conceptual-thinking skills. The lab assignments required the real construction of a small network and the simulation in a computer system. The virtual part of the lab was implemented by using PC-based computer simulation tools. Students are able to access a variety of software packages for analysis of different communications systems either locally or remotely. In addition there are several physical devices that will be configured by the students creating a real network. In such way they cover the theory, then have real practice assembling a small network, and finally simulate large scale systems. The topics covered in the lab can be divided into three categories: communication signals, fiber optic & wireless links, and communication networks. Senior and graduate students are the primary users of this lab. Typically, this lab can be utilized as a supplement to the existing communication courses or be taken as an elective course. I. Introduction The field of communications is dynamically changing due to the advances in the technologies that support it. Many areas demand highly trained personnel to solve the new challenges such as data communications, wireless networks, security, etc. Now is more relevant than ever the need for communication engineers capable of developing new ideas and implementing systems feasible to maintain and operate. Very often electrical engineering curriculums offer students one or two theoretical communication courses; still this is not enough to train communications engineers with the proper background on the newer technologies. The problem with traditional courses is that they are only focused on the foundations of communications theory, not on the final applications. The goal of this course is to familiarize students with several different communication systems through a series of laboratory experiments using small-scale test beds and employing computer simulations. The equipment needed to implement laboratories with the newest technologies is expensive and changes constantly[1-4]. This makes it difficult to continuously upgrade such laboratories. Consequently, employing a computer based laboratory with different software packages specialized for communication applications might be a good approach to overcome all

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Gonzalez, V., & Musa, A., & Shadaram, M. (2005, June), Development Of A Communications Course Integrating A Virtual Laboratory And Complex Simulations Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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