Asee peer logo

Multidisciplinary Senior Design Using Software Defined Radio

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Signal Processing Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.895.1 - 14.895.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


William Birmingham Grove City College

visit author page

Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Chair of Computer Science Department, Grove City College

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Multidisciplinary Senior Design Using Software-Defined Radio


Multidisciplinary projects involving electrical engineering (EE) and computer science (CS) students are both exciting and difficult to create. We have created a year-long project based on software-defined radio (SDR). The combination of software and hardware makes SDR an excellent choice for senior projects. Senior CS students have enough programming experience to handle the software development; EE seniors have sufficient knowledge to understand the basics of radio, signal processing, and circuit design. The integration of a complex hardware and software system provides an excellent educational experience. In this paper, we describe the senior project courses, the pedagogical goals, and how it supports our ABET course outcomes.

1. Introduction

Software-defined radio (SDR) is an important technology that underlies many modern wireless communications systems for both telephony and data communications. With the availability of cheap high-speed computing platforms, inexpensive electronics, and good software development platforms, we believe that SDR is one of the most effective ways to meet the increasing demand for low-cost, flexible data and voice communication systems.

One of the great things about SDR for undergraduate education is that the technology is popular among hobbyists (particularly amateur radio operators) and academics (many of whom are hams). Thus, a variety of SDR systems can be constructed with relatively low cost and from publically available (i.e., non-proprietary) hardware and software components. Examples include the GNU radio1 and FlexRadio’s line of SDRs2.

SDR is a flexible platform that can be easily modified to suit a wide variety of applications, ranging from changing waveforms, to operational frequency bands, and to specialized user interfaces for particular services. Ideally, only software needs to be changed to make these modifications; there is no need to change the hardware. In addition, since SDR systems (to varying degrees) place most of the radio processing in software, an SDR system can be ported to various computing platforms in a straightforward way. For example, at Grove City College (GCC) we are

Birmingham, W. (2009, June), Multidisciplinary Senior Design Using Software Defined Radio Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5722

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: © 2009 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