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10-09-2008

New Clarkson University Team Developing Emergency Communication Technology Receives Support from Qualcomm

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/qualcomm.jpg]

Representatives of Qualcomm were on the Clarkson University campus October 9 to lend a hand to a new student research/design team, which will demonstrate the effectiveness of new digital microwave voice and data communications in northern New York and provide students with hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology.

Qualcomm Senior Vice President of Engineering Michael J. Campbell '79 and Senior Director of Product Development M. Fram Akiki '86 presented the Community Radio Team with a $15,000 donation, which it will use to set the standards for next-generation radio communications. qualcomm

The Electrical & Computer Engineering Department-based group of 15 students is one of the University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) teams.

"Qualcomm is pleased to support leading-edge communication projects that address real world issues," said Akiki. "We believe this will be a great learning opportunity for the students and will hopefully benefit local communities as well."

The new communications technology involves D-Star, an open-source system of 1.2GHz digital microwave communication for voice and data developed by the Japan Amateur Radio League.

D-Star could provide a digital system of transferring secure data at high speed between emergency services and local hospitals. Currently only analog voice communications are available. High speed data applications would include sharing of non-text files (such as medical images) and the ability to handle Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) in the case of landline communications disruption.

Ultimately, D-Star could allow all of the hospitals in St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties to communicate not only with each other, but with the rest of the outside world in case of emergency or disaster, especially during times when conventional means of communications are unavailable.

"This is another good example of how our school focuses on the theme of 'Technology Serving Humanity,'" said Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering Dean Goodarz Ahmadi. "The University and North Country community will also benefit from economic development associated with access to high-speed data communications, as well as for broadcasting entertainment events like cross-country races, winter carnivals, etc." "Hands-on experience assembling this system will be good practice for engineering students interested in the radio communications industry," said Electrical & Computer Engineering Prof. Paul B. McGrath, team advisor. "With electronics engineering technology moving into the gigahertz range, students need hands-on opportunities to work with signals in the microwave spectrum."

D-Star defines two modes of communications: Digital Voice (DV) and Digital Data (DD).

DV allows simultaneous voice and low-speed (1kbps) data communications over a single wireless digital data stream. DD allows for broadband-speed data service (128kbps) over amateur radio. The DD mode of operation is a new frontier for amateur radio, allowing amateur radio to function in a mobile Internet style of connectivity, with high-speed data communications.

Local amateur radio operators, including Clarkson alumni, will provide guidance, assistance and mentoring in the construction, interconnection and testing of the system. "This will allow not only a partnership regarding the technology and its application, but it will provide opportunities for students to be mentored regarding education choices and careers," said McGrath.

The Clarkson University Amateur Radio Club, K2CC, will comprise the initial members of the research team, but all students, faculty and staff will be welcome to join.

Future projects will involve assisting surrounding campuses in installing similar systems to expand the network throughout the region.

The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives, exemplifying Clarkson's "defy convention" approach to education. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 350 undergraduates annually. Projects involve engineering design, analysis, and fabrication. In addition, students learn real-world business skills, such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communications skills.

Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Qualcomm Incorporated is a leader in developing and delivering innovative digital wireless communications products and services based on CDMA and other advanced technologies. For more information, please visit http://www.qualcomm.com.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Representatives of Qualcomm were at Clarkson University Oct. 9 to present the Community Radio SPEED team with a $15,000 donation. Front row, left to right: team members Andrew P. Moskevitz '10 (KB1RDR), John W. Robinson '09 (K1JR), Gregory M. Zenger '09 (N2GZ), Matthew M. Franklin '10 (KB1PDJ), and Matthew A. Krass '10 (KC2RGZ). Back row: Robert J. Davis, SPEED director; Richard Burns, local amateur radio community representative; Qualcomm Senior Director of Product Development M. Fram Akiki; Qualcomm Senior Vice President of Engineering Michael J. Campbell; and team advisor Prof. Paul B. McGrath.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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