U. Tennessee 5G network to support rural research, VR in classrooms

An administrator at the University of Tennessee told EdScoop that the current deployment of the institution’s 5G network will allow research for rural areas, such as drone ground control, as well as classroom applications.

The University of Knoxville announced an alliance earlier this month with AT&T to build a 5G wireless network on its campus. Leaders said they plan to use 5G to support both research and instruction, starting with the buildings at the university’s research park, Cherokee Farm, and with limited outdoor access.

Ozlem Kilic, associate dean of the engineering school, told EdScoop that the 5G network presents many new research opportunities for the school’s agricultural and precision farming college. He said researchers can use 5G-connected drones, relying on the low latency of the technology, to monitor soil fertility, moisture and crop conditions. Beyond agriculture, Kilic said researchers also plan to use 5G-connected sensors to monitor the health of older people living alone in rural areas.

Outside of research, Kilic said the low latency of wireless technology will benefit instructors and students who can run virtual and augmented reality tools on the network.

Although the project will begin at the research park, the plan is for the network to cover the entire campus.

“Because broadband allows for almost real-time responses, many courses can be developed on this platform where students can experience things that can be really risky or difficult to access or access, such as nuclear engineering,” Kilic said. “High-power circuits could be another or distant places to which they would not otherwise have access. We don’t want this to be limited to engineering, we want this initiative to be all over campus. ”

Faculty of Engineering professor Aly Fathy told EdScoop that the benefits of 5G hardware include its portability, due to its smaller sensors, as well as its ability to serve many people in a small area.

Organizers also plan to show 5G technology to K-12 students in surrounding areas, Fathy said.

“[We want to] start receiving many, many courses in these rural areas and get involved with students in this education, “he said.” It’s about creating jobs, training and also using all the local control fast and wide. 5G bandwidth “.

Researchers in engineering are collaborating with art and design and music teachers to teach students in the neighboring area concepts, such as electromagnetic waves, using AR and VR, Kilic said. He said they are also developing immersive learning experiences for students and that they plan to help teachers feel more comfortable with technology.

AT&T is partnering with colleges and universities across the country to explore various aspects of 5G technology. At Texas A&M, researchers plan to use an old airstrip system as a test bed for autonomous vehicles. The University of Connecticut announced this year a 5G lab focused on data science and entrepreneurship programs. Other universities are exploring technologies such as agricultural machinery and auxiliary backpacks that enable the “Internet of Things.”

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