From her love of Morse code to her passion for Amateur radio, Ruth Willet ‘21 has been able to learn more about the field of wireless communications from professionals around the country thanks to a scholarship she recently received.
Willet, president of the newly revived Amateur Radio Club on campus, was awarded the Radio Club of America’s Young Achiever Award, which allowed her to attend the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Orlando, Fla., March 5-9.
“I was shocked to have received this award. I never dreamed I would be able to attend such a prestigious wireless event. It was an honor be recognized by the Radio Club of America and to be presented this award. It was an eye-opening experience for me to be exposed to the field of wireless communications and to be introduced to the discussions taking place among first responders and the government regarding emergency situation preparedness,” said Willet, who is double majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Physics at Kettering.
“As an amateur radio operator, I’ve mostly only experienced the hobby side of radio. This conference allowed me to see a broad range of applications for radio and technology in a thriving industry that impacts both the workplace and our communities. It was very energizing to attend all sorts of workshops and seminars, and learn how much our daily lives are touched by the field of wireless communications.”
The expo this year focused on urgent communications and the need for reliable connectivity between first responders at ground zero and the devices providing them with accurate, protected, and up to date information. Expo attendees included wireless communications professionals, companies that supply radios and other technologies for first responders, government policy makers, and many first responders themselves.
IWCE provided a wide spectrum of educational opportunities, allowing attendees to be up to date on FirstNet, 911 and Public Safety, Smart Cities, Cybersecurity, and more. The first two days were exclusively educational, filled with seminars, workshops, and multi day certifications. The last few days of the conference expanded to cover both classes and an exhibit hall showcasing the technology.
Some of Willet’s favorite forums that she attended discussed in-building wireless coverage, smart maps for in-building awareness, radar, and radio interference. One of the highlights of the week was attending a Women in Wireless workshop.
“It was great to meet, learn, and network with successful businesswomen who work in the wireless industry,” Willet said. “I was even able to participate in a professional development class with one of the keynote speakers after the conference, which was very beneficial. It was very interesting for me to become more aware of the wireless communications industry. I love my double major at Kettering University and am thankful that I was introduced to a thriving industry that has applications in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Physics.”
Now Willet is taking her enthusiasm from the event and bringing it back to campus as the Amateur radio club kicked off this term. The club, K8HPS, meets from 8 to 9 p.m. Mondays in room 2-225 AB.
Willet had to pass an exam given by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to receive her call sign, KM4LAO, and be allowed to operate on Amateur (or ham) radio bands. The three levels of Amateur radio licenses from entry-level to most advanced are Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. Willet upgraded to the Amateur Extra level license before she graduated from high school.
Willet is excited that the Amateur Radio Club is hosting a class to help others get their ham radio licenses. The instructor, Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is an experienced ham who regularly teaches one day licensing classes. Anyone from Kettering or the community who is interested in getting their Technician class license is invited to attend a class on Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in room 2-225 AB. This class is free to Kettering students, with a $10 charge from any other attendees. The cost to take the FCC Technician license exam at the end of the class is $15. The Amateur Radio Club plans to host another class during the Fall 2018 term.
For more information email Willet at firstname.lastname@example.org.