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Spring 2001



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. Wayne Scales developed the new course for senior undergraduate and graduate students. The course was developed from collaborations with Cornell University.

"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."

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, July 25, 2001
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