ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Accredited by ABET
Undergraduate Programs

ECE 4124 Radio Wave Propagation


Fall 2014 textbook list

The Fall 2014 ECE textbook list is available online for students.

Current Prerequisites & Course Offering

For current prerequisites for a particular course, and to view course offerings for a particular semester, see the Virginia Tech Course Timetables.

Return to course list

ECE 4124 Radio Wave Propagation (3C)

Behavior of radiated electromagnetic waves in atmosphere, space, urban and indoor environments; path, frequency and antenna selection for practical communication systems; propagation prediction.

What is the reason for this course?

This is an important senior level course for students in the electromagnetics and communications area. Greater demand for flexibility and portability has led to a boom in the cellular-radio telephone industry, and recent research efforts by leading telecommunications firms indicate that radio links may replace wires in offices and factories of the future, becoming the more conventional offices and factories of the future. More conventional types of radio communication are used extensively by military and consumer industries throughout the RF spectrum. This course presents fundamental concepts for understanding, evaluating, and predicting radio propagation effects throughout the radio spectrum and in a variety of scenarios. This material is not presented in-depth elsewhere in the EE curriculum and is an excellent complement to ECE 4104 (Microwave Techniques), ECE 4114 (Antennas), ECE 4634 (Analog and Digital Communications), and ECE 4644 (Satellite Communications). Students planning careers in radar, communication systems, or electromagnetics are introduced to fundamental concepts which govern radio wave propagation. This course illustrates how electromagnetic field theory can be applied to the development of practical design tools such as link budgets. This course builds on the fundamental EM field concepts learned in ECE 3105 and 3106.

Technical Elective. Typically offered: Spring. Program Area: Electromagnetics.

Prerequisites: C- or better in 3106.

Why are these prerequisites or corequisites required?

Students will be expected to know Maxwell’s equations and, to a more limited degree, their application to engineering problems. This material is covered in ECE 3106. Incoming graduate students with a similar background from another university may take the course with consent of instructor. A grade of C- or better is required in ECE 3106 because the material in that course provides an essential foundation for the material covered in ECE 4124. Students without sufficient mastery of this essential material are at increased risk of failing ECE 4124.

Department Syllabus Information:

Major Measurable Learning Objectives:
  • Predict propagation effects of electromagnetic waves in the terrestrial, atmosphere, space, and urban environments
  • Compute link budgets and select antennas, frequencies, and paths for radio communication and radar systems
  • Describe statistical characteristics of propagating signals
  • Identify factors that hamper and enhance radio propagation in a variety of scenarios.

Course Topics
Topic Percentage
Review of basic electromagnetic and communications concepts 10%
Propagation and antennas at high frequencies (HF) 10%
Space wave propagation at VHF and above 20%
Receiver signal statistics 10%
Diversity and anti-multipath techniques 10%
Propagation modeling in urban and indoor environments 20%
Propagation considerations in systems designs 20%

Return to course list