New undergraduate course in software-defined and cognitive radio design

This spring, ECE students can design software-defined and cognitive radio systems or components for applications ranging from biomedical to public safety in a new technical elective taught by ECE Research Associate Professor Carl Dietrich.

In the first few weeks of this project-oriented class, Software-Defined and Cognitive Radio Design (ECE 4984), students will study software-defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio (CR) concepts and their enabling technologies. These technologies include digital processing hardware, analog to digital conversion, antennas, and software that performs functions such as signal processing and, in the case of cognitive radios, autonomous adaptation of a radio's operation. The course will also cover applications of SDR and CR, including efficient use of radio frequencies through new spectrum sharing approaches such as dynamic spectrum access (DSA).

The course will feature in-class and out-of-class tutorials as well as a weekly laboratory session. The tutorials and the first several weeks of the lab will be devoted to familiarizing students with software toolkits that enable rapid development of software-defined and cognitive radio applications. "Later in the semester, the students will be able to use the scheduled evening lab time, in addition to in-lab office hours, for working on their projects," says Dietrich. "Students will start their team design projects in the fourth week, with progress reviews including demonstrations of work in progress approximately every four weeks."

Students will have access to the newly-renovated Radio Lab, SDR and CR testbeds (CORNET, a 48-node indoor testbed, and O-CORNET, a 15-node outdoor testbed), and take-home SDR kits.

According to Dietrich, "this SDR, CR, and spectrum sharing/DSA is a hot area of employment and research," in the United States and abroad, and he expects the class to prepare students for employment or further study in these fields.