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U471B·SUNDAY WORKSHOP: Visualization and Gamification for Radio Engineering Education
Workshop · Sponsored Sessions
Sun. June 26, 2016 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Room 282, New Orleans Convention Center
Session Description

Ticketed event: $35.00
Many radio engineering principles, such as electromagnetic spectrum, noise and interference, data throughput, bit or block error rate (BER or BLER), are abstract concepts characterized by formulas and numbers that are difficult to grasp, especially by undergraduate students. Wireless@Virginia Tech has therefore developed a wireless testbed and several software tools to improve undergraduate engineering education using visualization and gamification principles. This workshop offers the participants the opportunity to explore our testbed and software tools in an interactive environment using real radios that are remotely accessible from a web browser, remote desktop or Linux terminal. This work is supported by the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program under grant number 1432416.

The main part of the workshop will introduce our visual lab sessions that use different forms of 2D and 3D visualization techniques to illustrate important radio communications principles and trends. A game-like interface allows the students to observe how transmitter and receiver parameters affect the radio channel and performance figures and vice versa. The backend for such visualization is the cognitive radio test system (CRTS), which is developed at Wireless@Virginia Tech and used in the international student spectrum sharing radio contest (SHARC, This system allows measuring the performance of cognitive radios and other modern radios.

In addition, we have developed 15 short tutorials for undergraduate students to build and experience wireless communications principles and components with GNU Radio. GNU Radio is a popular open-source software repository of readily available digital signal processing components that enable building and running radios on a PC interfacing with universal software radio peripheral (USRP) for over-the-air transmission and reception. Our tutorials are unique in the sense that their focus is on teaching a number of essential communications concepts, including Fourier transform, Fourier series, modulation, and quantization noise, rather than primarily using the GNU Radio toolbox for building more complex radio systems and subsystems.

The workshop will be organized in two blocks. The main block (~2 hours) will be a mix of lecture, demos and hands-on exercises. The second block (~1 hour) will be organized in a few sequential breakout sessions to understand other schools’ needs and ensure that the tools are flexible and widely applicable as a result of inter-university collaboration. The workshop presenters will share their experience of using the methods and tools in the classroom and student design contests to initiate discussions with the participants about other instructors’ and students’ needs and new use-cases. Both blocks will be flexibly arranged at the beginning of the workshop as a function of the participants’ backgrounds and interests. We will offer take-home sessions and share the outcomes of this workshop with all participants.

  1. Dr. Carl B Dietrich P.E.

    Virginia Tech

    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 peerreviewed
    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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