New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
With the rapid proliferation of millions of smartphones, the adoption of the latest 4G LTE technology worldwide, and the emergence 5G broadband wireless technologies, wireless communications has become an integral part of every person’s daily life and will continue to be as such in the foreseeable future. Due to this remarkable surge in wireless technologies, a strong need for developing a flexible, hands-on laboratory platform to teach a wide variety of wireless techniques has emerged. Indeed, current educational systems worldwide and in the United States teach wireless communications by mostly (and sometimes exclusively) focusing on the theory. This approach is perceived as dry by the students who often find it hard to connect the rather complex theoretical abstractions to their everyday "fun" interaction with smartphones. Recently, software-defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio (CR) concepts that allow developing programmable and affordable wireless systems have gained significant interest in the wireless community. The introduction of new highly reconfigurable and affordable SDR-based hardware modules such as the popular Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) platform is seen as a promising approach to building a hands-on wireless laboratory.
To this end, National Instruments have recently introduced a series of lab experiments for teaching wireless communication principles using the USRP SDR platforms. First, fundamental theory of wireless communications such as digital modulation formats, synchronization, and equalization are introduced in the class. Later, students implement these theoretical concepts in the lab using the National Instrument’s USRP SDR platforms. At a large southeastern university, this curriculum is being used to teach wireless communications to undergraduate and graduate students. The goal of this paper will be to summarize the experiences and lessons learned from teaching this course, which includes about 15 undergraduate and 20 graduate students. To collect data, pre-class and post-class surveys are conducted with the students at the beginning and end of each semester. Moreover, post-lab online surveys were made to collect data explicitly for the hands-on lab experiments. Students often commented on the lack of background in using LabVIEW software. For example, one student indicated that, “Since LabVIEW is new to many of us, it would be greatly helpful if the lab process were taken step-by-step’’. Some other students suggested use of more detailed instructions in the lab manual. In general, survey outcomes highlighted the importance of using hands-on components in the course. Statements such as, “USRP Lab experiments greatly help by showing visually how the concepts we learn in class are applicable” and “(USRP labs were) extremely useful, they were a big help in grasping the concepts.” The full paper will provide further details about survey results and draw conclusions on how to best deliver such an SDR-based lab course to graduate and undergraduate students.
Guvenc, I., & Paul, N., & Bowley, R., & Fernandez, M. L. (2016, June), Hands-On Learning of Wireless Communication Principles Using Software-Defined Radio Experiments and LabVIEW Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25435
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