Intel helps UCSD teach students about wireless, mobile embedded systems

August 26, 2005

Computer engineering students at the University of California, San Diego will be able to design programs for embedded systems using kits that Intel Corporation normally reserves for its own developers or corporations that build Intel processors into their products.

In its ongoing effort to support higher education and research training, Intel has donated microprocessor development kits valued at $193,638 to support the Jacobs School of Engineering's Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department and the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

The kits will equip research and training labs, initially for a senior-level project course on wireless multimedia embedded systems.

"While some universities have taught this for personal-computer applications, it is fairly new to teach about embedded systems for mobile applications such as cell phones," said professor Rajesh Gupta, who holds the QUALCOMM Chair in Embedded Microsystems in the Jacobs School. "The idea is to enhance the education of our students by moving beyond single chip design toward complete systems embedded on a chip for mobile devices."

The donation through the Intel Foundation includes 40 Intel® PXA27x Processor Developer's Kits (based on its latest XScale® family of power-saving semiconductors for wireless and mobile devices), as well as related computer equipment and support. The kits are full, high-end embedded systems platforms, and can be used for any embedded processing applications. The Intel gift contributes to the $1 billion fundraising goal of The Campaign for UCSD: Imagine What's Next.

"Intel's motivation for this particular grant process is to supply computer equipment and other tools to jump-start relevant curriculum and research that prepares students for tomorrow's applications," said Jerry Kissinger, Education Manager of Intel's Santa Clara site. "This particular grant appealed to the selection committee because of the practical, problem-solving approach to the field of wireless multimedia applications."

Intel's equipment will initially be used in a twice-yearly embedded systems course to be taught by computer science professor Tajana Simunic Rosing, who co-authored the grant proposal with Gupta.

"In each class there are usually 40 students," noted Simunic Rosing. "So with Intel's donation we have a one-to-one ratio of students to developer platforms, which they will use as they work on their individual projects."

Their projects are expected to involve hands-on experience in areas of application and systems programming (operating systems and middleware) for delivering content such as multimedia in embedded systems on wireless networks - while taking into account the power constraints of mobile devices that usually rely on batteries.

According to Simunic Rosing, one planned student project is for Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Scripps seismologists are trying to achieve instantaneous transfer of data from seismic sensors when an earthquake hits. "Intel's platform has enough processing power for significant data analysis at a remote site," said Simunic Rosing. "It can do part of the seismic data processing and wireless data delivery on location, while transmission of data from sensors in areas not affected by the earthquake can be delayed until there is enough spare bandwidth in the network."

"Our company has an intense interest in the whole wireless arena," explained Intel's Kissinger. "Professors Simunic Rosing and Gupta are creating a laboratory and collaboration which will offer students a specialization where they can affect the future of wireless computing."

The Intel hardware will be deployed in UCSD's two newest buildings, opening in the fall. Thirty kits will be installed in the new CSE building's Embedded Systems lab, while ten kits go to the Systems on Chip Laboratory in the 215,000-square-foot Calit2 building.

Intel is not a newcomer to supporting research at the Jacobs School. Rajesh Gupta's research lab received a $50,000 donation last year. Gupta and fellow computer engineering professor Dean Tullsen (a pioneer in semiconductor multiprocessing) have been supported by Intel through the nationwide Semiconductor Research Corporation. Intel also funds projects indirectly through its membership in UCSD's Center for Wireless Communications (CWC). Intel is one of the private partners in the Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses (CIED), a joint venture of UCSD and UC Berkeley. Led by CSE's Stefan Savage, it was set up last year as one of the first NSF-funded Cyber Trust centers. In May, Intel teamed with the UC Discovery Grant program (which provides matching funds) to underwrite a $1.1 million project of Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Gabriel Rebeiz, who is developing Giga-bits-per-second 24 GHz and 60 GHz communication networks using smart-antenna base stations. In February, a team led by CWC director Larry Larson was awarded $420,000 jointly by Intel and the UC Discovery Grant program to investigate ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for communications applications. Intel has also supported the mobile computing software research of CSE professor Bill Griswold.

"Our students and faculty have benefited in many ways from the close relationship we are forming between the school and Intel," said Jacobs School Dean Frieder Seible. "Just this summer Intel supported top high-school students spending a month at UCSD to work on team research projects - and I have no doubt that some of those students will now make UCSD their top choice for college, in part thanks to Intel."

"Intel is pleased to be a continuing partner in the advancement and support of higher education," added Kissinger. "We look forward to the contribution this equipment will make to the education of UCSD students and to the university's curriculum and research."
Since its founding nearly 50 years ago, UCSD has rapidly achieved the status as one of the top institutions in the nation for higher education and research. In order to keep UCSD at the forefront of academic and research excellence, the university launched The Campaign for UCSD: Imagine What's Next in July 2000. Donations to the comprehensive $1 billion fundraising campaign will help support students and faculty, expand academic programs, fund research endeavors and strengthen innovation funds to meet the highest priority needs. The Campaign for UCSD has generated over $742 million to date, but there is still more than $258 million to raise before the campaign concludes in June 2007.

Related Links

Computer Science and Engineering Department
Embedded Systems and Software
Microelectronic Embedded Systems Laboratory
Embedded Systems Projects
The Campaign for UCSD
California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology

University of California - San Diego

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