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Wireless Communication Testbed and Tools for Authentic STEM Learning

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Innovations in Communications and Wireless Systems Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

16

Page Numbers

26.1743.1 - 26.1743.16

DOI

10.18260/p.25079

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25079

Download Count

134

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Paper Authors

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Vuk Marojevic Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-1217-7052

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Vuk Marojevic graduated from University of Hannover (MS), Germany, and Polytechnic University of Catalonia (PhD), Spain, both in electrical engineering. He joined Wireless@Virginia Tech in Summer 2013 as a Research Associate. His research interests are in software-defined radio technologies with application to 4G/5G cellular, UAV, and spectrum sharing, among others. Dr. Marojevic has been instructor of undergraduate and graduate level classes at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain, and Virginia Tech.

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Richard M. Goff Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education

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Richard M. Goff is a former aircraft structural test engineer for the Navy, Peace Corps Volunteer, and computer entrepreneur; he holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Richard has been teaching and engaging in research in multidisciplinary engineering design education for over eighteen years. Dr. Goff is the recipient of several university teaching awards, outreach awards, and best paper awards. His passion is creating engaging learning environments by bringing useful research results and industry practices into the classroom as well as using design research results to inform engineering practice.

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Carl B Dietrich P.E. Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech

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A licensed Professional Engineer in Virginia, Carl Dietrich earned a BS EE degree from Texas A&M University, and MS EE and PhD EE degrees from Virginia Tech. He has taught courses in software defined radio, communications systems, electronics, and electromagnetic fields. He has also taught short courses on software defined radio since 2007, covering fundamental concepts and enabling technologies in addition to the use of open source software to develop and run SDR applications. In addition, Dr. Dietrich has performed and directed research in the areas of cognitive radio, software defined radio (SDR), multi-antenna systems, and radio wave propagation, and has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers. He has worked at Virginia Tech, Bell Northern Research, and the Defense Information Systems Agency. He has served as chair of the Wireless Innovation Forum's Educational Special Interest Group, is a member of ASEE and Eta Kappa Nu, Senior Member of IEEE, and an Extra class amateur radio operator.

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Taeyoung Yang Virginia Tech

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Taeyoung Yang received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2003 and 2012, respectively. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electronic engineering from Sung-Kyun-Kwan University, South Korea, in 1997 and 1999, respectively. He is currently a Research Scientist with the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Virginia Tech. Dr. Yang has strong theoretical background on radiation physics, co-site interference, and size-performance limits of wireless devices. Along with the theoretical background, he also has extensive hands-on experience in antennas, RF, sensors, and measurements. His current research emphasis is on developing core technologies including generalized fundamental limit theory on antenna size and performance, spectrum sharing and management, cognitive wireless infrastructure, software-defined radio user equipment, and mission-critical cloud services.

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Christian W. Hearn Weber State University

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Dr. Hearn is an Assistant Professor in the College of Applied Science and Technology at Weber State University. He received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech. He was a member of the Virginia Tech Antenna Group during his plan of study. Before returning to graduate school, Mr. Hearn was a mechanical engineer for the Naval Surface Warfare Center. He is a licensed mechanical engineer in the state of Virginia.

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Nicholas F Polys Virginia Tech Advanced Research Computing

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Nicholas F. Polys is Director of Visual Computing with Virginia Tech Research Computing Group and Affiliate Research Professor in the Department of Computer Science. He has developed interactive 3D graphic content and systems for over 15 years. His research interests lie at the center of graphics and Human Computer Interaction: the intersection of visualization, virtual environments, and perception. After his undergraduate research in Cognitive Science at Vassar College (1996), he jumped into the networked information space of the WWW developing audio, visual, and 3D assets and software. His doctoral work at Virginia Tech (2006) examined perceptual cues and layout behaviors for Information-Rich Virtual Environments for desktop to immersive platforms.

He is a member of ACM, IEEE Computer Society, and the Web3D Consortium. He is a co-author of the international standard (ISO) Extensible 3D (X3D), elected Director and President of the Web3D Consortium, and Chair of the Web3D User Interface Working Group.

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R. Michael Buehrer Virginia Tech

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Dr. R. Michael Buehrer joined Virginia Tech from Bell Labs as an Assistant Professor with the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2001. He is currently a Professor of Electrical Engineering and is the director of Wireless @ Virginia Tech, a comprehensive research group focusing on wireless communications. During 2009 Dr. Buehrer was a visiting researcher at the Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences (LTS) a federal research lab which focuses on telecommunication challenges for national defense. While at LTS, his research focus was in the area of cognitive radio with a particular emphasis on statistical learning techniques.

His current research interests include geolocation, position location networks, iterative receiver design, dynamic spectrum sharing, cognitive radio, communication theory, Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) communications, intelligent antenna techniques, Ultra Wideband, spread spectrum, interference avoidance, and propagation modeling. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Office of Naval Research, and several industrial sponsors.

Dr. Buehrer has authored or co-authored over 50 journal and approximately 125 conference papers and holds 11 patents in the area of wireless communications. In 2010 he was co-recipient of the Fred W. Ellersick MILCOM Award for the best paper in the unclassified technical program. He is currently a Senior Member of IEEE, and an Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Communications and IEEE Wireless Communications Letters. He was formerly an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technologies, IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, and IEEE Transactions on Education. In 2003 he was named Outstanding New Assistant Professor by the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and in 2014 Dr. Buehrer won the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Award for Teaching Excellence.

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Abstract

Wireless Communication Testbed and Tools for Authentic STEM Learning We propose a novel educational gamification approach that employs and reinforcesotherwise-abstract concepts currently taught in graduate-level courses to become a standard partof undergraduate communications courses in the future. In particular, we develop software toolsthat visually demonstrate relevant wireless communications parameters and processes, includingthose already taught in undergraduate communications courses (e.g., power, modulation type,data rate and bandwidth, coding rate) to students in an interactive way. We exploit an Internet-accessible wireless communication/ cognitive radio testbed to enable students to experiencewireless communication challenges and learn different solutions in realistic environments via anordinary web browser. The testbed mimics a real-world system and provides a safe environmentthat allows over-the-air transmission at low power or under experimental licenses. A cognitive radio testbed consists of cognitive radio nodes. Each node has a cognitive agentor engine that controls a flexible radio or set of radios. The cognitive engine is usuallyimplemented as a complex algorithm that may evolve over time. Initially, an agent may havevery limited knowledge about how to effectively operate the radios. A cognitive agent is able tolearn how to adapt its information transmission and other radio parameters to a given situation.Our approach is to replace the cognitive agent with a student. A student can then control aflexible radio in a wireless testbed under a gaming scenario to achieve challenging wirelesscommunication “mission”. Multiple students can participate in the scenario as individuals or ingroups. As students operate their radios they will observe cause and effect and learn to apply andimprove their knowledge of material currently covered in undergraduate communicationscourses in order to make better decisions and achieve more rewarding outcomes. Students will bein situations where they need to cooperate their transmissions with their classmates to get thebest overall benefit (score) or operate selfishly to maximize their own score. Lesions learnedthrough this game-like process representing real-world communication challenges can be furtherdiscussed in a class. We expect that students are strongly motivated to learn more aboutadvanced wireless communication principles and learn how cognitive radios work. This paper will present a prototype of wireless testbed enabling the educational gamingapproach. We will discuss example scenarios, visualization tools, class modules, and evaluationmethods. Evidence from past experience using similar methods will be also discussed. Webelieve that the learning effect and engagement can significantly improve learning ofundergraduate communications engineering content over traditional methods and also promoteand enable introduction of advanced wireless communication concepts into the undergraduatecurriculum. To ensure widespread relevance of the tutorials, we are developing them incollaboration with faculty from a variety of institutions and programs that representundergraduate-only engineering and engineering technology programs, historically blackcolleges and universities, and research universities. We hope that the proposed gamificationapproach can be effectively introduced into other curricula to enhance undergraduate andgraduate education and research engagement in related engineering and science fields.Fig. 1. Cognitive radio system (left) and gamification concept for education (right): Thecognitive engine (artificial intelligence to provide an optimized communication performance)takes as inputs the wireless environmental parameters and the acquired knowledge (not shown)to turn the knobs and meters of the radio or radios. The cognitive engine in the right subfigure isthe student, who observes and controls the radio(s) and learns from the own and other students’actions.

Marojevic, V., & Goff, R. M., & Dietrich, C. B., & Yang, T., & Hearn, C. W., & Polys, N. F., & Buehrer, R. M. (2015, June), Wireless Communication Testbed and Tools for Authentic STEM Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25079

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