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Education In Software Defined Radio Design Engineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Design in the ECE Curriculum

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.460.1 - 13.460.8



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Paper Authors


Frank Kragh

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Frank Kragh is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Dr. Kragh received his B.S. from Caltech in 1986, his M.S. from the University of Central Florida in 1990, and his Ph.D. from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1997. He was employed with the Space and Naval Warfare Command in San Diego, California, Scientific Applications International Corporation, and as a US Naval officer before joining the faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School in 2003. His chief research and teaching interests are digital communications, software defined radio, spectrally efficient modulation and coding, multiple-input multiple-out systems, and military communications systems.

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Jeffrey Reed


Carl Dietrich

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Carl B. Dietrich earned a Ph.D. (2000) and M.S. (1992) from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, and a B.S. (1987) from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA, all in electrical engineering.

He is a Research Assistant Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, where he is affiliated with Wireless@Virginia Tech (MPRG and VTAG). He leads the OSSIE open source software defined radio project, performs research on cognitive radio, multi-antenna systems, and radio wave propagation, and teaches software radio, communication systems, electromagnetics, and electronics. He has also worked for Bell-Northern Research and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Dr. Dietrich is a member of ASEE, IEEE, and Eta Kappa Nu, and is licensed as a Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Donna Miller

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Donna Miller is a Research Associate and manager for the software defined radio laboratory in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Ms. Miller received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1985 and her M.S. in Software Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2000. She was a Naval Officer for several years before employment as a Systems Engineer for various US Navy communications systems at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego. She joined the Naval Postgraduate School faculty in 2004.

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

Education in Software Defined Radio Design Engineering

Abstract— Software Defined Radio (SDR), an interdisciplinary emerging technology, presents new challenges for communications engineers and engineering educators. In SDR, signal modulation and information coding are defined in the system's software, not hardware. The authors have incorporated SDR design into their respective curricula both to support the growing demand for SDR engineering and to teach widely applicable systems engineering concepts. SDR-oriented curricular changes include new courses, laboratories, and software design tools. Software radio design is taught as an interdisciplinary systems engineering undertaking, emphasizing the importance of systems engineering methodologies, design architecture, and hardware issues. The Software Communications Architecture (SCA), a military SDR design standard, is used as an illustrative example of smart systems engineering through establishment of a well-defined architecture. Software topics include software architectures, object oriented programming, the SCA and other relevant software standards, multi-rate signal processing, and software engineering. Hardware topics include the radio frequency front end, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, microprocessors, digital signal processors, and field programmable gate arrays. Hands-on SDR laboratories undergird project-based learning. Laboratories include development of SCA-based modular signal processing components and SDR AM receivers. This equips students for design and implementation of more complex components or applications, preparing them for the challenges of SDR design in industry or government.

I. Introduction

Software defined radio design is a key topic in the graduate communications engineering curricula at the authors’ universities. At each institution, this includes a lecture and laboratory course in software defined radio design, laboratory facilities for SDR design, and related research efforts. Very few universities include software defined radio in their curricula. In this paper, the authors discuss their SDR design curricula and the need for it, in the hopes of promoting and facilitating similar developments at other universities.

A. Rationale – why is SDR education important?

SDR design is an excellent topic to be included in graduate communications engineering curricula. SDRs are important for the wireless communications industry, the military, and the public safety sector. The demand for engineers with the appropriate skill set for software defined radio design is much greater than the current supply. SDR has long been implemented in base station design and is expected to be utilized in cell phones by 2010 and dominate cell phone designs in 20151. Also SDR design is a good example of the benefits of best practices in interdisciplinary engineering. SDR design is typical of the complex and multidisciplinary design projects that challenge practicing engineers today. In engineering education, it is important to remember that many of the engineering technologies our students will work with in their careers

Kragh, F., & Reed, J., & Dietrich, C., & Miller, D. (2008, June), Education In Software Defined Radio Design Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4112

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