New hands-on approach brings this wireless-systems course within reach

Written by
Scott Lyon
Nov. 21, 2022

We all know the feeling: Just when the conversation gets going, the voice on the other end of the call breaks apart. Hell—? Can—? 

A newly revamped undergraduate course will peel back the curtain on this modern problem, introducing students to the foundational concepts of digital communications and wireless systems that enable (and impede) our mobile technologies.

“Everything is wireless. Look around! My computer, my mouse, my keyboard, my phone,” said Yasaman Ghasempour, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “The average number of wireless devices is more than 20 per household. And that’s before we get to all the emerging technologies. VR. The metaverse. Robotics and autonomous vehicles.”

Ghasempour is offering “Introduction to Wireless Communications Systems” (ECE 368/COS 368), in the Spring 2023 term, with a new lab component and an emphasis on software-defined hardware systems and hands-on approaches to learning.

Cross listed in both computer science and electrical and computer engineering, the class seeks to attract students interested in learning about the principles of how wireless systems and networks operate. No pre-requisites are required, making it particularly well-suited for students with different backgrounds who are intrigued by the ubiquity of wireless signals.

“Students will interact with software to control the radio,” Ghasempour said. “They’ll come to understand how to convert digital information such as an image or a text to signals that can be transmitted from the radio while measuring the speed and reliability of the connection. The goal is to send information wirelessly yourself, rather than just learning the math behind it.”

ECE 368 was offered in two previous years, but Ghasempour worked closely with Wyatt Lloyd, associate professor of computer science, to develop a hands-on lab component that appeals to COS students as well as ECE students.

The syllabus will cover topics from modulation and coding to wireless radio propagation to the fundamentals of cellular systems and wireless security. The class will meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. with a choice of two lab sections on Wednesdays.

Find out more through the registrar's course details webpage.