NAIT students create tool to gather data on emerging technology in wireless internet connectivity
NAIT students Rob Hawley, Zach Melnyk and Pepe Villarreal recently completed a capstone project with Zedi Solutions, an Edmonton wireless technology company serving the oil and gas industry.
Capstone projects provide learning experiences that enhance students’ career opportunities and support business and industry. And this one was typical, solving a real-world problem.
“Essentially, what we did was analyze a different method of wireless communications, in this case, the application of long range wide area networks or LoRaWAN, as a new connectivity strategy,” explains Hawley (Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management ’17), who works for Harris Canada Inc. in its air traffic management communications area.
How does LoRaWAN work? Hawley says it’s a lot like Wi-Fi, but has longer range and lower power.
The technology was not commonly used a few years ago, but now is increasingly being deployed to help devices interconnect and send and receive data – known as the “internet of things.”
Zedi a partner each step of the way
The three recent grads built a mobile diagnostic tool that analyzes internet coverage distance between devices from rural to urban areas. They also analyzed data from tests in an Edmonton area weather station.
“One of the things that surprised us was just how well it works in a city,” says Hawley, referring to the testing the group did in downtown Edmonton. Typical performance was advertised to be about 2 kilometres in the city, but their tests showed 3 kilometres of coverage.
They built a prototype and tied that into Zedi’s existing secure cloud infrastructure technology ZediAccess, which was provided to the students.
“This is a great example of a capstone project that has tangible outcomes.”
Zedi estimates the company spent about $25,000 on the capstone project and the students’ tests. And Zedi is optimistic that it can couple its own technology with findings from that project into areas like agriculture and smart cities initiatives.
“This is a great example of a capstone project that has tangible outcomes,” says Zedi’s president Ilario (Larry) Spagnolo (Marketing ’16), a former member of NAIT’s Board of Governors and campaign cabinet member for Essential: The NAIT Campaign.
Zedi has also donated Smart-AlekTM electronic gas flow measurement devices and access to Zedi AccessTM, the company’s award-winning cloud-based software solution, to support students through hands-on learning.
Capstone projects often span two terms and can take up to 800 hours of students’ time, says Melissa Dobson, an instructor in the Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management program. Students present their work in a Capstone Showcase designed to highlight the top projects and introduce industry-ready grads to potential future employers.
“We really want the students to come away with four things: project management skills, critical thinking skills, research skills and the ability to communicate effectively,” says Dobson says.
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