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Student engineering team members are two-time Smart Radio Challenge winners


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 20, 2008 – A team of electrical and computer engineering students from Virginia Tech's Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is a winner for the second time in the Smart Radio Challenge competition.

The event was part of the annual Software Defined Radio conference held in Washington D.C.

Virginia Tech’s Center for Wireless Telecommunications team members were awarded first prize for solving the problem of how to handle communications from an infrastructure damaged area. They were grand prize winners in last year’s inaugural competition.

A software defined radio is largely a digital device, but it is not limited to digital waveforms. It can transmit and receive analog voice, digital voice, data, or all three. The communication is largely determined by its software, hence the term “software -defined.”

A cognitive radio is aware of its environment, its own capabilities, the rules within which it can operate, and its operator’s needs and privileges. It is capable of changing its operating modes in ways that maximize things that the user wants while staying within the rules. A radio that does these things is said to be adaptive.

The Software Defined Radio Forum Public Safety Special Interest Group sponsored the competition.

This year the Virginia Tech successfully developed a smart radio system that will automatically create an ad-hoc extension to an existing communications network. The extension allows voice communications to be relayed between an incident site and existing communications systems along a path like a subway tunnel where signals can travel only short distances.

Doctoral candidate Mark Silvius of Blacksburg, Va., led the team advised by professor of electrical and computer engineering, Charles W. Bostian. Members are Terry Brisebois, Qinqin Chen Al Fayez, Feng Andrew Ge, Bin Phillip Li, Gladstone Marballie, Sujit Nair, Rohit Rangekar, and Ying Wang, Alex Young, all of Blacksburg, Va., and Yongsheng Sam Shi of San Diego, Calif.

Bostian predicts that “the first applications for cognitive radios will be in public safety with radios for first responders that can recognize and interoperate with mutually incompatible standards without operator intervention.”

The Center for Wireless Telecommunications is a member group of Wireless@Virginia Tech, one of the largest university wireless research groups in the United States. Wireless@Virginia Tech encompasses several centers and groups, including the Center for Wireless Telecommunications, the Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG), and the Virginia Tech Antenna Group (VTAG). The research group brings more than 25 faculty members whose technical expertise ranges from communications to networks, and more than 100 graduate students focused on wireless.