Reporter 460, 4 December 2000

University leads way into new hi-tech era

The world is on the brink of the next communications revolution and at the forefront is the University of Leeds.

Mobiles that send text messages or slowly access the Web are already in routine use but now what are called third generation mobile systems with faster Internet access and video telephony are less than two years away.

With the introduction of the new Bluetooth communications standard it will be a truly, digital world with cameras, mobile phones, computers, video recorders and even the fridge, along with every other kind of electronic wizardry, able to speak with each other with no physical connection.

Professor David Rhodes talks technical with IT students Tom Marks and Junitha Giles who are pictured with Dr Des McLernon and director of personnel at Pace Micro Technology plc, Maggie Pedder

A new MSc course, aimed at meeting industry’s urgent need for scientists and engineers to develop third generation mobile systems, is to be launched next year at Leeds. Part of a £1.13m, four-year package, it follows a successful bid to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is providing around £500,000, and collaboration with industry which is giving £180,000. The rest comes from the University.

The bid was designed and developed by Dr Des McLernon, of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, which is providing the course. The industrial backers and co-sponsors of the bid are Filtronic plc which has long links with the University and is headed by University Industrial Professor David Rhodes FRS, OBE, and Pace Micro Technology plc. Both firms – two of Europe’s leading communications companies – are based in Shipley.

The new MSc in modern digital and radio frequency wireless communications will initially offer around 25 places, including eight full scholarships. In sponsoring the new MSc, Professor Rhodes is now involved in assisting students from school through undergraduate level to postgraduate degree.

Dr McLernon said the new MSc course had been born out of the looming introduction of third generation mobile systems, and industry’s urgent need for suitably qualified scientists and engineers.

"Soon there will be a convergence of communication technologies where the CD player, computer, phone/fax, radio, TV, etc, will all share the same physical space and can be remotely accessed. But this revolution is desperately short of graduate communication engineers who understand the physical and mathematical theories of these complicated communications networks. The shortage is seen as being so critical that it now threatens the future development of many major companies.

"The new MSc course is designed to redress the balance "

A high resolution version of the above photograph is available: highresp7.tif

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