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News & Events

April, 2015

IUSE Grant

Wireless @ Virginia Tech faculty has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant aimed at Improving Undergraduate ScienceTechnology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education (IUSE) for research on wireless communication testbeds for authentic STEM learning. Investigators on the two-year $626,000 interdisciplinary project include: Carl Dietrich, principal investigator and research associate professor, Mike Buehrer, professor; and Vuk Marojevic, research associate; all of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Also on the team are: Nicholas Polys, of the research and cluster computing department at Virginia Tech; Richard Goff, associate professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech; and Christian Hearn, who obtained his doctorate at Virginia Tech and is now at Weber State University.

This NSF award will help prepare the next generation of engineering students to work in the field of wireless communications. The goal is to reinforce fundamental communication engineering concepts through hands-on interactive sessions. Students will operate radios in challenging environments that are generated in the internet-accessible, federal communications commission-licensed Cognitive Radio and Network Testbed (CORNET), (http://cornet.wireless.vt.ed) which was developed with funding from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Students will receive real-time feedback on their performance in tutorials that help them learn and apply knowledge of fundamental communication system concepts. The tutorials adapt approaches used in game applications to engage students through participation using standard web browsers on PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. As an added benefit, students will be introduced to more advanced concepts related to cognitive radio and dynamic spectrum access applications. The intention is to motivate them to pursue graduate study, research, and/or employment in this area.

Cognitive Radio Contest

Opportunity for Co-Sponsorship of Student Cognitive Radio Contest
Contact:  Carl Dietrich,

As potential developers of future wireless technology, ECE students need to integrate and apply their knowledge of communications, software-defined radio (SDR), and related disciplines in a team environment.  While class projects provide this to some extent, a longer-term and more team-oriented experience offers the advantages of a broader scope, greater opportunities for collaboration, and the flexibility and challenge of scheduling work over a longer time frame.

To help address this need, we plan to host the Spectrum Sharing Radio Contest (Spectrum-ShaRC) for students.  With re-regulation of spectrum access forecast to contribute a trillion dollars in societal benefits and enhance U.S. technological leadership over many years (PCAST), the contest topic is very timely. While the topic typically covered at the graduate level, the contest will involve undergraduate students to the extent possible.  The excitement of competition and possible publicity from performing well will provide additional motivation for students to deepen and apply their SDR related knowledge and to think in innovative ways.

Wireless @ Virginia Tech is organizing the Spectrum-ShaRC student cognitive radio contest for the 2015-16 academic year and summer of 2016.  The contest will use the cognitive radio test system (CRTS), a framework developed for cognitive radio experimentation and performance measurement, and Virginia Tech’s Internet-accessible CORNET cognitive radio testbed to measure performance of student-designed cognitive / dynamic spectrum access radios in challenging operational environments.  Teams will be given reference waveforms, implemented in SDR software such as liquid-dsp and / or GNU Radio, that are ready to run and interface to CRTS.  By providing this ready-to run reference waveform software, we will substantially lower the barrier to entry.  The waveforms can be modified in any way desired by the participating teams to improve the waveforms’ performance.  Teams will also have access to CORNET and CRTS throughout the academic year to enable them to test their waveforms at every step.  

We are seeking potential co-sponsors and have some interest from organizations that see the contest as an opportunity to recruit students with highly-sought professional interests and skill sets.  Co-sponsors will provide support in the form of donations and will have access to resumes of students who participate in the contest and an opportunity to meet with those participants who travel to the final competition in Blacksburg in May-June 2016.  Depending on the level of sponsorship, the sponsor could co-host a meal for the participants and address them during the meal, or set up a poster in or outside the dining room during a meal.  Sponsors will be listed on a web site and / or other publicity materials for the contest, in descending order of sponsorship level.

Co-sponsoring organizations will support the contest by means of a check to the Virginia Tech Foundation. The comment area of the check should designate the donation for “Cognitive Radio Contest, ECE Department.”  Co-sponsoring organizations should include a short letter specifying the donation should be used for the ECE Cognitive Radio Contest and the intended sponsorship level (see above). The letter should also include the name of the corporate / organizational contact and address if different than what is provided on the check. 

Donation checks with cover letters should be mailed to:
Karin Clark, Assistant Director - Corporate and Foundation Relations
College of Engineering (MC 0259)
Virginia Tech 3046 Torgersen Hall
620 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Once funds are received in the Gift Accounting office, an acknowledgement of the donation and a receipt for tax purposes will be provided.