This Lab Makes My Job Easy
The University of South Florida eases the learning curve for EE students using Agilent test solutions in a new wireless communications lab.
With the help of software and equipment gifts from Agilent Technologies along with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University of South Florida Electrical Engineering department has successfully developed their state-of-the-art Wireless Communications & Signal Processing Lab (WCSL) which is also part of the Center for Wireless and Microwave Information Systems. WCSL’s goal is to develop highly competitive students who are well educated in multiple areas of wireless communications.
Central to the WCS lab is a suite of hardware and software solutions from Agilent, including ESG Signal Generators and Vector Signal Analyzer (VSA) software. “We appreciate the generous support from Agilent,” states Dr. Huseyin Arslan, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at USF. “The entire lab was developed around Agilent equipment, allowing us to teach theoretical topics in the classroom and then verify them in the lab.”
The WCS lab has 3 benches with 2 stations each, allowing USF’s EE department to put a total of 18 students through the program per semester, typically with a mix of 70% graduate and 30% undergraduate students.
The Agilent equipment in the lab provides students with the capability to capture signals over the air, and then use the test instrumentation to digitize and process them. The students can then analyze the signals with software including Agilent SystemVue, Agilent ADS and MathWorks’ MATLAB. “The hardware and software integration is excellent,” notes Dr. Arslan. “It provides our students with a realistic lab environment that allows them to capture, process and analyze today’s standard and emerging telecommunications signals. Not surprisingly, other universities would like to replicate our lab.”
Dr. Huseyin Arslan (left) Wireless communication systems lab students carrying out their lab assignments (right)
Agilent has a long history of working with universities in both teaching and research. “Agilent takes an active role in supporting the development of the next generation of engineers,” said Mark Pierpoint, vice president and general manager with Agilent’s Software and Modular Solutions division. “Training students with the industry standard in design tools improves their understanding of the design process and accelerates their productivity on the job. Our donation of Agilent EEsof EDA software recognizes USF’s commitment to enable every student in their program to successfully compete in the global market.”
PhD student Alphan Sahin (left) and Anas Tom (right) is in the wireless systems lab doing an experiment.
USF’s EE students also learn how to analyze RF components like mixers, amplifiers, oscillators, and filters in the WCS lab. They can evaluate wireless channels, working with RF, IF, or baseband – controlling the test equipment at any stage. The analysis of the signals can be done down to the bit level, a capability provided by the Agilent gear. The lab provides the students with access to anechoic and reverberation chambers, and indoor multi-path channels which gives them the opportunity to measure multi-path fading and interference using constellation, eye diagram, and error-vector-magnitude (EVM) measurement techniques. Dr. Arslan is pleased with the new teaching environment. “Having test and measurement equipment with this capability is extremely valuable in our labs.”
The students and staff both benefit. USF EE students are extremely happy with the WCS lab, which allows them to make the connection between theory and application, and gives them a better grasp of the concepts. From a teaching perspective, Dr. Arslan is impressed with what the equipment in the lab provides. “The wireless communications concepts are becoming more and more difficult, so we really needed something that can bridge concepts to reality, and the Agilent equipment can help accomplish this. This lab makes my job easy.”
Dr. Arslan has plans to expand the lab in the future to allow access to additional students and to enhance the technical capabilities at the lab benches. “For me professionally, this is not just a course; I really want to improve something here. With the support of Agilent I can do great things. The sky is the limit on what you can do with this equipment.”
Related Links on University of South Florida :
- USF News about the Agilent $26M grant
- More information on the Wireless Communications System Laboratory
- USF Department of Electrical Engineering website
- Professor Huseyin Arslan’s group website
Related Links on Agilent Technologies :
- Agilent ESG signal generators provide metric grade continuous-wave, analog modulated, and digital modulated reference signals up to 6 GHz for baseband and RF test applications in the cellular communications, wireless connectivity, audio/video broadcasting, and aerospace/defense industries.
- The Agilent VSA software is a window into what’s happening inside complex wireless devices. These software tools provide views of virtually every facet of a problem, helping you see the “why?” behind signal interactions.
- Agilent SystemVue is a focused electronic design automation (EDA) environment for electronic system-level (ESL) design.
- Agilent Advanced Design System (ADS) is the leading electronic design automation software for RF, microwave, and high speed digital applications
- Read more Faculty Spotlight articles