COMP_SCI 397, 497: Wireless Protocols for the Internet of Things

Quarter Offered

Winter : 3:30-4:50 MW ; Ghena
None : 3:30-4:50 TuTh ; Ghena


Instructor permission - To apply, please fill out this Survey:


The Internet of Things promises a world of computers woven into our physical world. A common need for these devices is low-power, wireless communication. The goal of this course is to introduce students to a variety of wireless networks that target low-power, machine-to-machine communication as is common in the Internet of Things. While we introduce the physical layer and have a goal of getting data to the internet at large, the focus of this course is on the wireless protocols themselves. How are packets structured, and why? How are they designed to enable low-power communication? How do they deal with contention and reliability? What makes them more or less suitable for different applications? We will explore local-area protocols such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Thread (and other 802.15.4 protocols), low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox, and other related topics such as backscatter and localization.

The class will include lectures on these topics as well as practical hands-on lab sessions interacting with networks. Starting very early in the class, students will form groups for their final project and create a proposal, allowing them at least 5 weeks for project work. Projects will culminate in a research-paper-style writeup and a class presentation.

  • This course satisfies the Project requirement.

COURSE INSTRUCTOR : Prof. Branden Ghena

PREREQUISITES: Instructor permission. Experience preferred in microcontroller programming (possibly CE346) and computer networks (CS340).

Note: I'm enrolling students in the course with instructor permission only to ensure that students have the right experience to learn a lot from the course. However, you definitely don't have to know everything already, any microcontroller or networks experience is sufficient. Please fill out the survey, and I'll reach out to you with a permission number shortly afterwards.