Asee peer logo

Embedded Wireless Networks Instruction

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.452.1 - 15.452.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Benjamin Levine University of North Carolina

visit author page

Ben Levine is an Embedded Systems Engineer in Rock Hill, SC with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from UNC Charlotte. After studying Optical Science at the graduate level he switched to Embedded Systems engineering and is currently pursing his Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering.

visit author page

author page

James Conrad University of North Carolina, Charlotte


Ivan Howitt University of North Carolina, Charlotte

visit author page

Ivan Howitt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research interests are wireless networks, adhoc networks, and wireless technology applied to industrial environments

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

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. 10.18260/1-2--17003

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015