NEW GPS Course 2nd of Kind in USA
Christian Hearn (G) checks the antenna on Whittemore hall used in the new GPS course.
Virginia Tech became the second university in the country
to offer a laboratory course in global positioning system (GPS)
theory and design with the introduction of ECE 4164 last year.
developed the new course for senior undergraduate and graduate
students. The course was developed from collaborations with Cornell
"The students come into the lab and download raw data directly
off the GPS satellite constellation," Scales explained.
"Using this data, they learn the theory of how GPS receivers
work, along with design considerations for positioning, velocity
and timing calculations," he said. "The students learn
a great deal of real world engineering from their lab experience,"
hecontinued. "For instance, we use the same GPS receiver
hardware and test equipment that NASA uses for GPS development
for space missions."
GPS is an interdisciplinary subject and has a broad and rapidly
growing range of applications. The course involves a relatively
wide range of topics including radio wave propagation, communication
system theory, signal processing and satellite orbit dynamics,
which are taught "from the ground up" to accommodate
non-EE students, Scales said. "Currently, most of our students
are electrical and aerospace engineers," he said, "but
civil engineers and geologists may also find the course useful."