Lab Education & Outreach

Education and Outreach

DWSL has taken major roles in the establishment of these educational initiatives, involving pre-university, university, and continuing education:

This undergraduate class teaches the fundamentals of analog and digital communication. Topics covered include commercial amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), binary phase shift keying (BPSK), and m-ary quadrature amplitude modulation (MQAM). The class is accompanied by a laboratory component which will soon be available on DWSL’s Grid SDR Testbed.

This course provides a graduate level overview of various topics pertaining to modern wireless communication systems. The class covers topics including cellular architecture, multiple access schemes, trunking, small- and large-scale propagation models, cellular trunking analysis, antennas, diversity, smart antennas, diversity, and MIMO. The class includes an instructor defined MATLAB homework sequence that provides graphical intuition for how all of the topics in the class fit together. In addition, students provide a presentation of a recent IEEE/ACM paper relevant to class topics, and have the opportunity to demonstrate paper concepts using DWSL experimental facilities.

This developed laboratory course introduces students to security vulnerabilities present in wireless networks. Topics covered begin with an introduction to wireless networks and the threat models observed due to the broadcast nature of the wireless medium. Current security issues in WiFi networks are then analyzed including link layer vulnerabilities, access point spoofing, eavesdropping, secrecy, confidentiality, and integrity of the data transmitted. WiFi security techniques such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), as well as other wireless protocols including GSM and LTE are discussed. Additional topics covered include routing security, trust, user management, key management, and authentication servers. The course also goes into research-oriented wireless network security topics in PHY layer security (encryption and user authentication) and jamming. Lectures are integrated with hands-on laboratory experiments, where students gain experience in implementing security principles discussed during the lectures on the Drexel Grid SDR Testbed.

The last twenty years have seen a significant shift in the way major crimes – physical, financial, against individuals and against institutions – are conducted. One of the factors that has brought about this shift is the advancement in technology and electronics, and the growing reliance of society on electronic storage, computation and communications. In particular, we have seen a rapid growth in the use of the Internet and wireless networks for communication and data exchange. This process, which historically emphasized functionality over security, created serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by unauthorized manipulations. To counter these new threats more effectively, it is essential that new engineers and scientists be trained in the latest technology to mitigate cyber-crimes and other illegal intrusions into the information infrastructure. Moreover, they should be trained to include security in the design constraints of new systems, not as an afterthought.
Instructors and their students, who are rigorously trained along these lines through classroom exposition and experiential discovery in the laboratory, will be of tremendous value to the Federal Cyber Service, Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency.

Through support from the Capacity Building portion of the NSF Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, we have developed a new highly interdisciplinary Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree program at Drexel University. This degree program will be the product of a collaboration between the Drexel University College of Engineering and College of Computing and Informatics. Drexel is an NSA Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) and NSA has an interest in the development of a “deeply technical” graduate degree program in cyber-skills and information assurance for workforce enhancement at Drexel.

Through DWSL leadership of the Drexel Engineering Projects in Community Service Program (EPICS), we have mentored teams that work on projects for external non-profit humanitarian organizations while also engaging in pre-university outreach. EPICS, as originally envisioned by Purdue University and deployed predominantly within the United States, involves undergraduate students working with non-profit organizations, on humanitarian-related engineering projects. EPICS has been shown to increase the recruitment and retention of women and minority students. It also demonstrates to people who may not otherwise consider engineering-related career paths that ``engineers have a heart.’’

The Drexel implementation of EPICS involves ``vertical integration’’ in which undergraduate senior design team students mentor not only freshman engineering design team students, but also conduct pre-university outreach. Specifically, they recruit students to help with project related activities, and in doing so, learn more about engineers and engineering-related career paths. We have worked with students from North Penn High School, Philadelphia Science Leadership Academy and AMY at James Martin Middle School in Philadelphia. This program was disseminated globally by DWSL director Kapil Dandekar and Saurabh Sinha into the EPICS-in-IEEE program.

DWSL director Kapil Dandekar is leading the Drexel implementation of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program. This program is focused on long term design projects involving interdisciplinary students from across the university (i.e., not limited to only engineering). These teams may be sponsored by industrial partners using a well established sponsorship model. We envision a Drexel VIP program that is tightly coupled to long-standing Drexel strengths in experiential and cooperative education. This connection could not only allow co-op employers to cultivate potential talent for their companies prior to co-op / full-time employment, but also provide a mechanism for co-op employees to maintain continuity with students after their co-op experiences to entice them towards full time positions upon graduation. DWSL is housing a VIP team called “Wireless Systems for the Internet of Things” that includes students on projects such in the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge, working on real time localization systems, and on medical functional fabrics.

The Freedom Rings Partnership (FRP) is a collaboration of grassroots, government and non-profit organizations with the mission to increase broadband technology awareness, access, and training among Philadelphia residents. Along with Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology and the Urban Affairs Coalition, Drexel co-leads this two-year project funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The FRP represents a $25 million investment in the city of Philadelphia in federal and matching funds. Among the goals of the FRP were to: establish 77 public computer centers, provide 200,000 hours of free training to 15,000 residents, and distribute 5,000 free netbook computers to public housing residents who complete required training. DWSL Director Dandekar was the Drexel PI of this project with project activities largely coordinated by Joanne Ferroni in the Drexel Office of Government and Community Relations.