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Over the past several years, wireless engineering has emerged as a major area within Electrical and Computer Engineering. This field now embraces global wireless networks linking a wide variety of hand-held and other communicating devices, such as cellular telephones with Internet and e-mail capability, personal digital assistants, notebook and desktop computers, global positioning systems, medical monitors, and more. As these devices proliferate, the problems associated with their design and integration into coherent networks continue to escalate and result in many new engineering challenges.
Unfortunately, RF communications became a dormant area at most engineering schools in the early 1970s, and there now exists a shortage of RF/wireless circuit, system, and network designers at such companies as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, Nortel Networks, Ericsson, Cingular Wireless, Agilent Technologies, AT&T Wireless Services, Agere, Motorola, IBM, Raytheon, Harris and so on. The shortage of individuals who can address the issues of wireless design is expected to only get worse over the next two decades.
We expect a highly synergistic relationship to exist between Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center (WEREC) activities and the Information Technology Peak of Excellence. In particular, wireless networks are in a constant state of reconfiguration, and the software for network communication, control and data security are of as much import as the hardware in ensuring reliable operation of the networks. Similar relationships will be forged with other university pinnacles.
A seminar series will be established to enhance communication between the faculty, graduate students and staff associated with the center. A distinguished lecturer/visitors program will also be established as part of the graduate/undergraduate educational experience and serve to expand the external visibility of the center.
Extension: There is a significant need for wireless education away from university campuses. It is expected that many of the graduate wireless engineering courses can be offered through the off-campus video program. We also expect to develop Short Courses that can be offered on and off campus. Over time, we expect Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center(WEREC) to develop a significant WWW presence as well as a set of web-based instructional materials.