Big Deals in Higher Ed

The Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) at Northeastern University announces the establishment of an Open Testing and Integration Center (OTIC) in Burlington, MA, to promote research, development, and testing of next-generation Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN). The new OTIC within the Open6G hub will be a resource for industry, academia, and the federal government to provide testing, certification, and badging capabilities to guarantee multi-vendor interoperability, perform compliance and performance testing, and validate end-to-end control logic; as well as test artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to control open and programmable cellular networks.

The new Northeastern OTIC builds on facilities and capabilities available in the Open6G center, which will be expanded with dedicated testing equipment. Key capabilities include: 

  • Large-scale Experimental Wireless Testbeds – Colosseum, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the world’s largest wireless network emulator, with 256 software-defined radios and 25 server racks equipped with programmable GPUs, FPGAs, and orchestration tools. Colosseum has hosted demonstrations of closed-loop control with xApps in O-RAN using the OpenRAN Gym framework, large-scale data collection for AI/ML training, and extensive testing of commercial radios and emulated devices. Arena is the over-the-air complement to Colosseum, which hosts a first-of-its-kind fully automated private 5G network
  • FCC Innovation Zone – The OTIC is part of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Innovation Zone, which covers multiple 5G bands in the Northeastern University campuses in Boston and Burlington, MA. This allows over-the-air testing of O-RAN systems in a variety of different environments. 
  • Diverse 5G RAN Deployments: The OTIC encompasses multiple 5G RAN deployments, including commercial/proprietary as well as Open RAN products such as 5G User Equipment (UE), core networks, and a programmable 5G O-RAN testbed with over 10 base stations in the indoor Arena testbed. This extensive infrastructure facilitates testing and integration of xApps and rApps against various RAN implementations in emulated and over-the-air environments.  
  • Specialized Testing Facilities: The OTIC is co-located with a large outdoor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) testing facility to explore use cases related to drone mobility and with an anechoic chamber designed to conduct interference-free radio device testing. 

The Northeastern OTIC has been launched in partnership with AT&T, Verizon, and DISH. The WIoT industry consortium, which has been supporting this effort, counts about 20 vendors, operators, over-the-top system integrators, and small businesses in the telecom space. …Read More

Survey suggests need for campus innovation

Campus leaders must think outside the box to keep U.S. higher education ahead of the rest of the world and also control costs, survey respondents said.

A majority of Americans still believe that college is very or extremely important in order to experience the “American Dream,” according to a national survey that paints a picture of how higher education is viewed today. But 83 percent of respondents also believe that U.S. colleges and universities must “innovate” to remain globally competitive and keep down costs.

Last October, Northeastern University asked FTI Consulting to conduct 1,001 telephone interviews across the country to examine Americans’ views of college today. The survey, “Innovation Imperative: The Future of Higher Education,” revealed that nationally, 70 percent of Americans think that college is either extremely important or very important, and three out of four older Americans think that college degrees are more important today than in previous generations.…Read More

Mass. schools team up for supercomputer center

A 9-acre site will house the supercomputing center.

At a gritty industrial site occupied a century ago by a textile mill, five universities are collaborating to install supercomputers that will recreate the start of the universe and perform other research.

The developers of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, which is being built and is expected to be operating by the end of next year, were drawn to Holyoke for the same reason industrialists flocked to the city in the 19th century: cheap water power from the Connecticut River.…Read More

Technology gives engineering programs a real-world impact

Students will use sensors to examine how the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge reacts to daily traffic.
Students will use sensors to examine how the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge is affected by 50,000 daily commuters.

Drexel University engineering student Jeffrey Dowgala says real-time information recorded by electronic sensors has helped him and his classmates understand the many environmental factors that can affect a bridge—an impact impossible to explore in standard textbooks.

Philadelphia-based Drexel and prominent engineering programs at Northeastern University in Boston, Purdue University, and Texas A&M University secured $200,000 from the National Science Foundation last year to use monitoring equipment that shows how a nearby bridge reacts to traffic, heavy vehicles, and weather.…Read More