Teaching Wireless Networks with Minimal Resources

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the thirty-fifth SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Conference or Event

thirty-fifth SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education


Mathematics and Computer Science


The rapid growth of wireless communications services and networks has led departments to consider offering elective courses on the topic. Textbooks exist that can help support such a course, but providing students with hands-on wireless networking experience can be difficult and expensive.We present the outline of a wireless networking course that can be offered with minimal resources, and describe our experiences using the approach. The students who took the initial offering of the course gained hands-on experience with wireless networking, did traditional sockets programming, and acquired the theoretical foundations of both traditional and wireless networking.Students implement a simplified IEEE 802.11 Wireless Ethernet MAC layer as a course project. In our case, the implementations took advantage of the Cybiko, a $50 wireless handheld computer targeted at teenagers. Our materials are currently being ported to other platforms, including Bluetooth-enabled Palms and networks of workstations. The latter platform will allow this project to be conducted without any special resources.