Congratulations to the PulsON Education Challenge Winners!

PulsON_Edu_ChallengeWe are pleased to announce the winners of Time Domain’s 2014 PulsON Education Challenge!  The objective of the contest was to (a) develop an undergraduate lab experiment which uses Time Domain Ultra Wideband platforms to demonstrate an important characteristic or principal of  RF, and (b) to provide a sample lab report of a completed experiment.

All of the winners and experiments can be found here.

Why did Time Domain sponsor this contest? We want to help undergraduates develop an intuitive sense for how RF propagates, how it works, and how it can be used.  This sense will make them better engineers and scientists.

Why undergraduates?  We believe that it is very difficult to instill in undergraduates an intuitive feel for RF.  Students in every other engineering disciple arrive at the university with an underlying appreciation of their study area.  Programmers may have been developing code since elementary school.   Mechanical engineers, having bent pencils and carried loads, arrive knowing of stress, strain, and force.   Civil engineers arrive knowing how water flows from watering a garden or splashing in a pool.  It is a lot tougher for RF engineers.  It is easy to start your college years not realizing that a smart phone is a radio transceiver and that a microwave oven is a radar.  Classes start with Maxwell’s equations and lab exercises are limited by the cost of equipment or the amount of time it takes to train students in its use.  This is great if you have an intuitive base but confusing if you don’t.

Given that UWB equipment is reasonably inexpensive, provides real time images of transmitted RF waveforms comparable to those produced by a $30K scope, and has the performance (but not the transmit power) of a million dollar radar, we figure that it would make a great tool of undergraduate labs.

But good equipment is not enough.  You also need fine experiments.  So we sponsored this contest with the intention of crowd sourcing the development of experiments. All of the experiments are posted and can be downloaded by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.  We hope that they will find their way into labs and make a difference.  I know that they would have made a huge difference in my undergraduate studies.

–Alan

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