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The Wild World of Wireless in the 2020s – What do we Need to be Teaching?

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

The Curriculum at Two-year College's Engineering Technology and Engineering Transfer Programs

Tagged Division

Two-Year College

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37906

Download Count

11

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Paper Authors

biography

Gary J. Mullett Springfield Technical Community College

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Gary J. Mullett, a Professor of Electronics Technology and Department Chair, presently teaches in the Applied Engineering Technology Group at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) located in Springfield, MA. A long time faculty member and consultant to local business and industry, Mullett has provided leadership and initiated numerous curriculum reforms as either the Chair or Co-Department Chair of the four technology degree programs that formerly constituted the Electronics Group. Since the mid-1990s, he has been active in the NSF’s ATE and CCLI programs as a knowledge leader in the wireless telecommunications field. A co-founder of the long running National Center for Telecommunications Technologies (then the ICT Center) located at STCC, Mullett also played a principle role in the development of the innovative and long running Verizon NextStep employee training program. The author of two text books, Basic Telecommunications – The Physical Layer and Wireless Telecommunications Systems and Networks, Mullett did both his undergraduate and graduate work (in Remote Sensing) in the ECE Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he also taught the undergraduate sequence of courses in electromagnetics. He has presented at numerous local, regional, and national conferences and also internationally on telecommunications and wireless topics and on the status of the education of electronics technicians at the two-year college level. His current interests are: the development of novel and innovative systems-level approaches to the education of technicians, applications of the emerging field of wired and wireless networked embedded controllers and sensor/actuator networks, and cyber-physical system applications in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Abstract

Today, a Google search of the Internet of Things (IoT) routinely yields upwards of 5 billion hits. Even If the average person doesn’t know what the IoT entails, they have probably heard this newly coined term at some point during recent times. Likewise, a Google search of wireless technology commonly yields over a billion hits. The relationship – most of the IoT applications recently implemented and those conceived/planned for future deployment depend upon wireless connectivity. Predictions by IoT Analytics are that less than 10% of future IoT apps will be of the wired variety! The average technology savvy individual would probably believe that the other 90% would be provided wirelessly by either cellular or Wi-Fi technology. They would most likely be mistaken! IoT applications are planned for almost all sectors of the economy. However, these various application sectors bring with them their own wireless connectivity challenges. Advanced manufacturing touts Industry 4.0 or the industrial IoT (IIoT) but the typical factory floor presents an extremely harsh environment for present day wireless systems. e-healthcare is the future of medicine in both clinical and home settings but interference from other IT oriented data services is extremely undesirable. The automobile industry is rapidly introducing new vehicle safety features that are based on cyber-physical systems with the ultimate goal of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) wireless communications to achieve the most reliable accident avoidance systems. However, the congested highway environment with bumper-to-bumper traffic and a need for extremely low-latency for this type of application brings complexities that present-day wireless systems cannot deal with. Other applications with geographically dispersed extremely low power sensors present further problems. Presently, one is bombarded with TV ads from the major cellular providers about 5G smart phone service. Indeed, 5G was purposely designed to facilitate machine-to-machine wireless communications. However, it will not be until Release 16 and 17 (add-ons that deal specifically with IoT and new frequency allocations) of the 5G standards are issued in the early years of this decade that this enabling technology will be available. Wi-Fi, a technology that we all take for granted for accessing the Internet, has recently started a new IEEE 802.11 task group (11bd) to upgrade a twenty-year-old standard, 802.11p, that has never been used for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications. However, this initiative is not expected to be complete until 2022 at the earliest. Meanwhile, there has been a proliferation of IoT driven wireless technologies: Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) implemented with LoRa, MIOTY, MyThings, SigFox, NB-IoT, etc., ZigBee and other Mesh protocols, RFID, and Bluetooth and BLE are all players for different IoT application areas. These other wireless technologies will not be covered by main stream IT programs of study since they are typically used to implement operational technology (OT) systems. This paper will attempt to answer the following: At the two-year college level, how should these wireless technologies be taught, to what level, and by whom?

Mullett, G. J. (2021, July), The Wild World of Wireless in the 2020s – What do we Need to be Teaching? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37906

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