Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

December 2, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- At the SMU School of Engineering, students will soon be able to get credit for talking on their cell phones.

A gift from Nokia Mobile Phones in Irving is enabling the school to set up a wireless network lab -- including a cellular base station -- in the new Jerry R. Junkins Electrical Engineering Building. The station will be fully connected to the global wireless network through a special high-speed network between SMU and Nokia.

"This laboratory will enable students to learn not only how data travels from a wireless device in their hands to a wireless device across the world, but also to understand why there is congestion in wireless networks," said Geoffrey Orsak, professor of electrical engineering and associate dean of the SMU School of Engineering. The grant grew out of a three-year contract that Orsak had with Nokia to conduct wireless research on high-speed networks.

Orsak said the laboratory will be an educational and research resource for students from high school through graduate school. SMU was one of only four universities in the country to be selected for the grants, which are designed to further research and education in the area of wireless technologies.

The new SMU Nokia Wireless Networking Laboratory, which will be set up for use by the end of the spring 2003 semester, will enable the SMU School of Engineering to offer new courses focusing specifically on wireless networking and wireless technologies. Research in the laboratory will focus on how to integrate wireless communications across a variety of new wireless standards such as Bluetooth, wireless LAN and cellular.

"Mobile computing and other wireless applications generate highly variable traffic and can impose severe demands on communication network resources," Orsak said. "This lab will help us develop new technologies to improve the efficiency of these wireless systems."

Dinesh Rajan, assistant professor of electrical engineering, will use the lab for his research on developing algorithms to run the next generation of wireless communication systems.

Mark Sunderland, research and technology manager for Nokia Mobile Phones, said Nokia hopes the grant will get the next generation of students excited about the possibilities of wireless technology.

"There are many new applications of wireless technology, such as in hospitals," Sunderland said. "We want to make sure students are aware of these possibilities so they can explore them."