Kumar Shubham, Graduated in 2020 from EEC Department, working at Qualcomm in the area of communications
Embedded Wireless Systems
This course aims to disseminate the necessary knowledge base on signal processing methodology, algorithms and protocols for design and development of embedded wireless communication systems.
- Source: Brief description from Micro Curricula
Q.1. In your curriculum, you had the mandatory foundation course TE300002 i.e. Introduction to wireless communications as your mandatory foundational course. The course TE30002 is quite different and has a lot of depth compared to other UG courses. The course broadly focuses on network architectures, topology, applications and graph theory. How is the course different from the introductory course on communications taught as depth courses in EC dept like Analog Communications and RF and Microwave engineering? And what are your views in general about the pedagogy of the course?
Response: Intro to Wireless Communications doesn’t teach the depth of a few topics but touches the intermediates of a large number of topics. This course is almost a subset of the Digital Communications course offered by EC dept which was a depth course for me. Yet I enjoyed this course a lot because it was taught very beautifull. Initially, we were introduced to various communication technologies present in the current landscape and their impact in households and industry. The course content is updated with time to include the state-of-the-art techs like 5G. We were shown demonstrations of some modules live in the Hardware Lab at GS Sanyal School of Telecommunications even though laboratory wasn’t prescribed in the curriculum. The course was ideal in covering the entire spectrum of theory, real-life applications, practical demonstrations, modelling and simulations; motivating a lot of students to dwell deeper in this sector.
Q. 2. In component-2, MIMO Communications, Communications Signal Processing and Algorithms, Spread Spectrum Communications and Jamming and Broadband Access Networks. Out of these, you had to take two courses. Could you tell us which two courses did you take?
Response: In my case, I did three courses because my interest was also in the field of telecommunications. The three courses I did were: MIMO Communications, Communications Signal Processing and Algorithms and Spread Spectrum Communications and Jamming. I did not take the course on broadband access networks. These courses are divided into groups based on a layered architecture of communication networks. There are different layers like the lower layer which is more close to transistors and resistors and then there are the higher layers which are related to broadband access. I was more interested in studying the courses related to the lower layer, so I chose the three courses related to the lower layer. The Broadband Access Network course is more related to the higher layer so I did not take it.
Q.3. So from course content of MIMO communications, it starts with the introduction of wireless channel models and then covers various aspects of MIMO communications like channel models, capacity, and diversity of MIMO channels etc and then moves towards the crucial practical domains like the energy-efficient radio designing. What specific aspects of this course motivated you to choose this over the other courses offered and how is it different from other courses? What were the general teaching methods of this course?
Response: In MIMO communications also our prof used to talk about advanced and ongoing things like 5G. Like what new is being done in 5G, how different waveforms can be used in 5G and how the channels are different. He used to give us an overview of different things and if it sparks an interest in any topic you can always take projects. In fact, our professor was the same for three courses: introduction to wireless communications, MIMO communications and Communications Signal Processing and Algorithms. So, the prof followed a very practical approach, also he has a very good research profile which helps students in developing interest. He also gave us a brief overview of his research. So, he used to teach something that is there in the syllabus and then he would do some modelling and then he would tell us some of the problems that still exist. So this is how he helped us build interest in industrial and academic research.
Q.4 So, you told us about the courses MIMO and CSPA. Could you also throw some light on the last course of you component-2 i.e. Spread Spectrum communications and jamming? And as we understand from the name of the course is it related to security purposes?
Response: Spread Spectrum Communication and Jamming is more theoretical and related to the military sector since the techniques have originated from there. These techniques were well developed long before since we were taught about the applications in World War 2, so finding an open research problem here is difficult. The techniques are majorly meant for the security of communication. Jamming of signals means that someone can receive it but can’t infer anything out of it. Anti-Jamming techniques were also taught to decode the jammed signals. Spread spectrum communication in a nutshell from military view is reducing the strength of the transmitted signal and encoding it into a wider band of frequencies instead so that third parties can’t detect it. Various techniques of spectrum spreading are taught in the course.
Q.5. Coming to component 3 of your course. In component -3 you could either take a project on Embedded Wireless Systems (TE67001) or you could choose from two subjects: Communication Services and Applications (TE60006) and Telecommunications Network Security (TE60004). Could you tell us if you took the project or one of the courses? And also could you tell us in detail about your project or your course.
Response: I was already working on a project in the same domain so I chose the course Communication Services and Applications. This course is more theoretical and very less mathematical at the same time. We talk about different applications of telecom domain, where it is used and it’s future uses also. Project is up to you.
Regarding projects, there are many layers of communications from where you can choose to start from the physical layer to the network layer. My project was under Prof. Gautam Das and it was related to the medium access control layer. Work of this layer is to make decisions that physical layers follow. My work was related to optical networks and optimization of communication among many users and 1 service provider. Let’s say there are 100 users and you schedule in a cyclic way. When user 1 is done transmitting its signal, user 2 starts but the hardware of user 1 is idle then. So the idea is to make use of such temporarily idle nodes to reduce the overall latency in the network. We worked on the problem and achieved satisfactory results.
Q.6. So, from my understanding this micro specialization is very much industry-relevant so now could you mention some future opportunities of taking this course both related to industry and research.
Response: So there are many companies and many domains under which you can work after completing this micro specialization. For the design of physical layers, you can work in companies like Qualcomm, Intel, Apple, MediaTek, Nokia which are designing chips for communication(eg. WiFi chips), IoT, augmented reality, vehicle to vehicle communication. Then another one is network layer and research prospects are more here.
CSPA is a very extensive course. And I’m proud to say that the CSPA course is more than enough to start working with these companies. When our interviews were going on we were asked just a small part that was covered in this course. Also if you do not complete this Micro but take only CSPA, MIMO and a good project you are more than ready for industry and also have a very good research perspective both in telecommunications and machine learning. The professors have great knowledge, research profile and collaborations. When we talk about 4G or 5G, the chips that are used in our mobile, Mediatek and Qualcomm are heavily working in this domain. Currently, Intel and Apple are working on WiFi chips and cellular chips. In IoT, this Micro is relevant everywhere. In the domain of control and automation, if we want to automate any factory so that workers can work remotely and this is very helpful as many industries are hazardous. This is done using augmented reality which is also a part of telecommunications. We also use this in telemedicine where it is critically ensured that there is no lag/latency, so the techniques taught to us come into play. In autonomous driving, vehicle to vehicle communication is used to avoid collisions in autonomously driven traffic. So many companies have started diversifying their portfolios; like Qualcomm, one of the leaders of this sector, which was previously working only mobile chips and WiFi chips has now started working on IoT and AR. Intel is also diversifying its portfolio. And different layers have different applications.
So Intro to Wireless, CSPA, MIMO deal with physical layers and other courses are for higher layers. So talking about job perspective from KGP itself if someone takes these three minimum courses then they are good to go. You can also combine telecommunication with other fields like physics or space technology. Currently, two professors from G.S. Sanyal School are working with the physics department in the field of quantum communication. You can also work in satellite communication after taking these courses where you’ll have to do some reading on your own because the channels are different, the distance is larger. But, once you have completed this course you can also go in this domain. And after completing CSPA and probability and stochastics you can also go in the field of machine learning.
Q.7. All of these courses require the basics of knowledge of wireless communications, mathematics, and computer science. So, if a student who is not of circuital branches and has taken only TE30002 as a prerequisite will the courses in component-2 be difficult for him/her to follow? If so what other basic courses must the student complete before taking courses from component-2 or component -3?
Response: It should not be a problem because the required math is not very extensive and easy to follow but it is advisable to take these courses after completing the prerequisite. Signal processing is not required but the basis of digital communications or introduction to wireless is required.