IEEE launches wireless certification program

April 24, 2008 -- IEEE ComSoc has developed the IEEE WCET program to certify the competency, practical knowledge and skills of wireless communications professionals.

April 24, 2008 -- The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Communications Society (IEEE ComSoc), a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of communications technologies, has developed a program to certify the competency, practical knowledge and skills of wireless communications professionals.

According to IEEE ComSoc, the IEEE Wireless Communication Engineering Technologies (IEEE WCET) certification program is specifically designed to address the global wireless industry's growing need for qualified communications professionals who can demonstrate practical problem-solving skills in real-world situations. The certification is intended to enable professionals to clearly demonstrate their knowledge of wireless communications technologies, and provide employers with a new means of selecting individuals for wireless engineering positions and projects.

"This is a very practical program that will help wireless professionals advance in their field, develop new opportunities in a global marketplace, and certify their expertise with real-world applications," comments Celia Desmond, IEEE WCET program director. "The certification will also help individuals working in other engineering areas to switch to the wireless field as new job opportunities arise."

Commenting on the program's background and development, Jean Niblett, IEEE's WCET project manager, adds, "We started back in December 2006 and brought together a non-vendor specific group of industry experts from all fields -- some from carriers, some from manufacturers, some from education -- and had them brainstorm about what areas they felt a professional who had three years of experience, plus a degree, would have full knowledge of if they were proficient. Then we took those areas and characterized them as domains, and brought them to focus groups throughout the world [for review]. There's about 176 different task and knowledge statements that are specifically associated with those domains, or areas of expertise, and [the focus groups] discussed all of those, in terms of which ones are really specific to a 3rd year professional, and which are not. We brought those back and sent them out to 1500 respondents on a survey. So we really vetted this thing; it's very specific for at least somebody who has at least 3 years of experience. We don't want somebody who's straight out of school --we want somebody who's actually had work experience and knows how wireless engineering works."

To qualify for the IEEE WCET designation, engineers with a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and at least three years of wireless engineering experience must pass a detailed comprehensive examination developed by more than 100 industry experts and experienced wireless practitioners. Overall development of the program was guided by Professional Examination Service (PES), a leading developer of certification programs.

"The exam itself is vendor-neutral and trans-national in scope, and will provide employers with a valid tool for measuring an individual's ability to meet wireless challenges in numerous industry, business, corporate and organizational settings," says Rolf Frantz, the program's industry relations manager.

The IEEE WCET certification examination is administered on computer. The first testing period is scheduled for late September 2008 at more than 500 testing sites located in 75 countries, with the next testing period slated for March 2009. The exam itself consists of 150 multiple-choice questions encompassing the following wireless domains and associated points of professional expertise:

RF Engineering, Propagation, & Antennas: evaluate system performance and reliability; calculate path loss; evaluate the effects of different fading models and empirical path loss models; calculate and evaluate the effects on the received signal of path-related impairments; determine parameters related to antennas or antenna arrays; generate and evaluate coverage and interference prediction maps; develop procedure to optimize the coverage of a radio; make RF system measurements.

Wireless Access Technologies: analyze building blocks, multiple access, mobility management, and spectrum implications in wireless access system design; design considerations to optimize capacity/coverage; design a wireless access system; analyze the required bandwidth for a wireless system and tradeoffs; analyze wireless access technology standards, their features and evolution.

Network and Service Architecture: analyze service platforms and IP addressing schemes for various technologies; design and test quality of service (QoS); select and test a load-balancing scheme; analyze IP routing and ad hoc routing and mesh protocols; perform capacity planning and error tracking and trace analysis; analyze the evolution of mobile networks to enable IP multimedia.

Network Management and Security: design a fault monitoring system and a performance monitoring system; develop/specify types and methods of alarm reporting; compute availability and reliability metrics; assess the potential impacts of known security attacks; plan corresponding solutions to known security attacks.

Facilities Infrastructure: determine power consumption, analyze electrical protection requirements and design the electrical protection layout for a wireless telecommunications facility; determine the required antennas for the facility and positions; develop a specification for the required structure for a wireless base station facility; determine the required cable, antennas, and materials to implement an in-building wireless network; evaluate equipment compliance with industry standards, codes, and site requirements.

Agreements, Standards, Policies, and Regulations: assess service and equipment quality; prepare specifications for purchasing services and equipment and evaluate the responses; verify compliance with regulatory requirements; select and analyze frequency assignments; perform standardized homologation tests as required by regulatory or standardization bodies; evaluate compliance with health, safety, and environmental requirements; perform conformance/interoperability analyses of systems and components; analyze the use of licensed vs. unlicensed spectrum; obtain licenses and permits.

Fundamental Knowledge: related to electrical engineering, communications systems, general engineering management.

The IEEE WCET Certification program fee is $500. In the coming months, IEEE ComSoc says it will also launch a set of resources designed specifically to help participants prepare for the examination. Two separate practice exams consisting of 75 different questions will be computer-based and available via the Internet for a price of $75 for one exam and $125 for both. A Wireless Engineering Body of Knowledge (WEBOK) sourcebook that provides detailed information on all the specialty areas covered by the examination will also be available for purchase.

A Candidate Handbook for the IEEE WCET certification program containing policies, complete details of the subject areas covered, reference sources, sample questions, application procedures and contact information will also be available, free-of-charge, through IEEE ComSoc.

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