June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Electrical and Computer
15.452.1 - 15.452.11
Embedded Wireless Networks Laboratory Instruction Abstract
Wireless sensor networks are now considered commonplace in the automation and monitoring of home, industry and environmental habitats, as well as having applications in military applications, healthcare and traffic control. Before 2006 there was a lack of educational resources pertaining to the joint fields of embedded systems and wireless network theory, especially on the undergraduate level. Based on this need for education, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte created a class to focus on the theory and application of Embedded Wireless Networks including detailed understanding of RF environmental characteristics, advancements in energy efficient network designs, and design techniques for energy efficient embedded systems.
With the increased popularity of wireless capability and energy efficient embedded computing, this educational course has become essential in creating in-demand engineers. The accompanying lab portion of the class has also allowed the students to become proficient in the use of monitoring equipment including Spectrum Analyzers, Function Generator and Oscilloscopes for measuring and troubleshooting wireless activity.
One of the main focuses of this paper is the teaching method used to help graduate and undergraduate students bridge the gap between the theory of RF signals, standard wireless protocols, and hands-on applications. Theoretical studies consist of RF environments including RF signal propagation, multi-path interference, and co-existence issues in the unlicensed frequency band. Standard Protocols studied include IEEE 802.15.1 (Bluetooth), 802.15.4 (LR- WPAN including ZigBee, and IEEE 802.11. Hands-on applications consist of combining function generators with antennae and signal attenuators to study frequency components of modulated signals and effects of attenuation. While specialized courses in embedded systems and wireless networks had existed separately, layering the fields to display real-life applications gives students a deeper understanding of the components.
Previous Work at other Universities
Previous classes offered at other universities, including UC Berkeley7 and Yale9, covered parts of the material needed to understand the decisions needed to design and implement an embedded wireless sensor network, but not in the expanded combination of the theory and hands on lab experience.
A Northeastern University4 course was highly focused on labs and projects involving wireless sensor networks for use in rescue-mission scenarios. The hardware platform used in the course included the TI MSP430 Processor and Chipcon ZigBee transceiver paired with off the shelf robot kits.
Levine, B., & Conrad, J., & Howitt, I. (2010, June), Embedded Wireless Networks Instruction Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/17003
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