Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

NSF funds wireless engineering

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 11 - November 2, 1995

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a three-year, $289,000 grant to Virginia Tech's Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) for the development of "a revolutionary academic curriculum for the education of wireless engineers at the senior and graduate levels," according to Ted S. Rappaport, founder of the university's Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG).

The MPRG proposal was one of only eight selected out of 450 submitted to the NSF. Rappaport said his group will work with Bill Tranter, an EE professor at the University of Missouri at Rolla, to "develop new engineering courses that will shape the way wireless communication is taught for the next 20 years."

Rappaport founded the MPRG at Tech in 1990 to develop the next generation of cellular phones, wireless computer networks, and wireless communications engineers. The MPRG is the largest university research group in its field in the U.S.

Other MPRG faculty members involved in the NSF project are Brian Woerner, the group's director, and Jeff Reed. The researchers will create courses in cellular communications, digital signal processing, and computer simulation of wireless systems.

This fall, Rappaport and Tranter began teaching a course they developed on simulation of communications, and Woerner introduced MATLAB computer simulation in a senior-level EE course.

"A key aspect of the NSF award is dissemination to other universities," Rappaport noted. The Tech group will build a network of universities with an interest in wireless-engineering education, generating World Wide Web sites and project notebooks that faculty members at other schools can access and contribute to as the courses are developed.

"The NSF award is exciting, given the huge competition and the interaction Virginia Tech will enjoy with other campuses in the world," Rappaport said. "The new curriculum will pioneer educational techniques and materials for the burgeoning wireless-communications field."