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While media has extensively reported in recent years on the estimated 30 billion devices or “things” that are expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, there has been little discussion regarding the development and education of the next generation of engineers who will need to be trained to meet the market demands and challenges these devices will create. The University of South Florida’s main campus covers 1,700 acres, with more than 320 buildings exceeding six million square feet in space and serving nearly 48,000 students. The size and density of the campus makes USF Tampa an ideal testing ground for real-world IoT development scenarios utilizing and experimenting with various emerging and cutting-edge IoT wireless standards, such as the LoRaWAN™ protocol and LoRa-based technologies. At the beginning of September, Occam Technology Group, a Tampa-based engineering services firm and LoRa Alliance member, partnered with the University of South Florida Information Technology and the USF College of Engineering, to enable the collection of LoRa-based IoT sensor data campus-wide, effectively turning the entire university into one of the world’s largest LoRa-based IoT labs.

Through a donation provided by Occam Technology Group, the underlying LoRa technology infrastructure consisting of industry standard gateways, a long-range antenna mounted at 200 feet on the university’s communications tower, access to Occam Technology Group’s custom LoRaWAN™ server software and remote endpoints, enables the use of LoRa-based sensor data in a variety of industry-leading IoT platforms, such as Amazon’s AWS IoT Cloud, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, and IBM’s Watson IoT.

The first real-world application being tested on the USF Tampa LoRa network is a pilot project to track capital assets allowing for easier locating and inventorying of the equipment.

USF Electrical Engineering Department Chair, Dr. Tom Weller, stated that “the rapid expansion of IoT and numerous related industries has already opened up many new employment opportunities for our students, and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.  We are always pushing to increase and enhance the hands-on activities that our students experience to give them a competitive edge in the job market, and the truly “real-world” nature of the LoRa-based ‘wall-less’ IoT lab concept is priceless. Students will become better problem solvers, looking for solutions to problems you just can’t produce in a traditional lab setting.”

“Being directly involved in the industry, Occam Technology Group can see the ever-increasing need for skilled embedded systems and computer engineers. Real-world experience will be critical in providing the necessary expertise the industry seeks,” Gordon Ryerson, Occam Technology Group’s managing director stated, adding: “Providing future engineers and programmers with access to the technologies that are currently being developed and deployed around the world offers a huge leap forward in making sure that the next generation of engineers will be able to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving market.”

Occam Technology Group has over the last few weeks conducted extensive testing regarding coverage and distance of the USF deployed LoRa-based network under varying conditions and scenarios which it plans to release in an upcoming white paper.

How is your company helping the next generation of engineers? 

Learn more:

Occam Technology Group 

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