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Using Software Defined Radio for Multidisciplinary Senior Design Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Capstone Design Projects in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1637.1 - 22.1637.11



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Paper Authors


James Flynn California State University, Northridge

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James Flynn is a part time faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). He holds a B.S. (1977) degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master of Fine Arts (1981) degree from Northwestern University. He is a partner in a consulting firm specializing in electronics for television and film production. Currently he is developing education tools involving software defined radio (SDR).

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Sharlene Katz California State University, Northridge

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Sharlene Katz is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) where she has been for over 25 years. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with B.S. (1975), M.S. (1976), and Ph.D. (1986) degrees in Electrical Engineering. Recently, her areas of research interest have been in engineering education techniques, software defined radio, and neural networks. Dr. Katz is a licensed professional engineer in the state of California.

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Using Software Defined Radio for Multidisciplinary Senior Design ProjectsAbstractElectrical and computer engineering programs typically require a culminating senior designproject. Several of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)accreditation outcomes are best demonstrated in the context of such a project. These include theability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realisticconstraints, to function on multidisciplinary teams and communicate effectively. The outcomesalso encompass an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility. At XXXXXXUniversity (XXXXX), students are assigned to work on senior design projects in groups of threeto five during a one-year course.Multidisciplinary projects are often difficult to develop. Software Defined Radio (SDR) providesan excellent basis for multidisciplinary projects, including interesting challenges incommunications, electronics, digital design, antennas, and microwaves.This paper describes recent XXXXX senior design projects where faculty assigned severalstudent teams year-long design projects utilizing SDR, which offered students and facultyparticular advantages. Faculty were able to create a number of realistic, multidisciplinaryprojects, in which students gained invaluable and in-demand expertise in this emergingtechnology. The paper also provides an assessment of how well the students demonstrated theABET outcomes.One project was a data link capable of transferring images and telemetry from an unmanned airvehicle (UAV) to a ground station, using SDR on board the UAV and on the ground. The semi-intelligent link was to be adaptive to changing propagation and noise. A second project was anamateur radio high frequency transceiver, including state of the art features found on high-end,non-SDR models. In both projects, students reported to faculty acting as the “customer”,providing the students with exposure to real world engineering tasks such as documentation,writing specifications and oral presentations.Subsequent projects built on and expanded these designs directly. For example, automatic targetrecognition (ATR) was added to the UAV project. Other projects utilized the legacy ofknowledge and experience gained to move into new areas of exploration such as a high speedoptical data link. As before, students gained invaluable experience in presenting their ideas inwriting and orally.

Flynn, J., & Katz, S. (2011, June), Using Software Defined Radio for Multidisciplinary Senior Design Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18524

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