Facilities

We are situated on the Wheatley campus in a purpose-built £9m facility which creates an environment in which technical expertise is enhanced by creativity and imagination.

We offer modern, state-of-the-art workshops, laboratories and computer facilities. This promotes a friendly, close knit community of staff and students with excellent student support staff and facilities close at hand.

ABOUT OUR FACILITIES

Department staff give an overview of the wide range facilities available to students within the department of Computing and Communication Technologies.

Computer equipment

  • Several classrooms with a PC per student running a wide selection of software.
  • Several computer rooms with access 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
  • Two Unix-based high performance cluster servers.
  • A range of 2D and 3D imaging devices for computer vision research.

Computer-aided design facilities

A range of performance PCs running a wide range of software for computer-aided design and analysis including AutoCAD, SolidWorks, CosmosWorks, Pro/Engineer, 3D Studio Max, Fluent, Adams, Ansys, ABAQUS, and Matlab. A3/A4 printer and an A0 plotter.

Computer-aided design facilities

A range of performance PCs running a wide range of software for computer-aided design and analysis including AutoCAD, SolidWorks, CosmosWorks, Pro/Engineer, 3D Studio Max, Fluent, Adams, Ansys, ABAQUS, and Matlab. A3/A4 printer and an A0 plotter.

Telecommunications and network facilities

  • Cisco 2811 routers, 2960 switches and network security systems to facilitate teaching on MSc programmes and undergraduate programmes offered within the Cisco® Networking Academy® Program.
  • Professional standard GSM and 3G monitoring equipment (Nemo Technologies) capable of recording all network signalling and facilitating drive testing of live networks. The equipment records all layer 2-3 signalling during idle and active phone modes and has attached GPS to store location information. Drive test data is stored for subsequent analysis using Aircoms’s Ranopt tool. This enables students to see cell boundaries, frequencies in use and where call handovers/failures and other network problems. Students can then analyse the data to understand why such events arose. This is a process that all network operators use to test their networks.
  • Aircom's Asset3G software for cellular radio planning including propagation modelling, coverage analysis and optimisation. Students can plan coverage for 2G, 3G and WiMax cells. Having planned a small network, students can then simulate traffic over the network to test its viability. Drive testing the established networks can also be undertaken to provide data for the network design and subsequently to compare actual coverage with predicted. Subsequent optimisation of parameters within Asset3G could then improve the model.
  • Optical network analysis equipment including OTDRs, test networks, laser/LED modulation and detection systems, and reflectometer analysis software.
  • Optsim, for advanced optical network modelling and design – used in under/postgraduate modules on optical communications and for student projects.
  • OPNET (www.cct.brookes.ac.uk/facilities/opnet) for network simulation of fixed line or wireless networks, including cellular systems. This software has been used extensively by our research students in modelling ad-hoc wireless networks.
  • Matlab with communications blocksets and full end-to-end WCDMA modelling facility for simulation of 3G mobile networks.
  • TIMS digital and analogue communication modelling system, which enables hardware and software modelling of: modulation, encoding, multiplexing system, CDMA etc.

Robotics facilities

The department has engaged in world-leading research in Artificial Intelligence for more than 10 years. Building on this work, we have opened a new Cognitive Robotics Laboratory.

The laboratory encompasses research in human-robot interaction, autonomous vehicles and bio-inspired robotics. One of the first robots to take up residence in the lab was Artie a life-size Robothespian humanoid robot who is fully interactive, multilingual and user-friendly. Artie is a powerful and versatile research platform who comes with a wide range of tools making him accessible to novices and useful for cutting edge research in human-robot interaction. A web-based interface means that students can remotely access and control Artie. Next to arrive in the lab was Baxter, a humanoid robot for research and teaching. Baxter is safe around humans because he utilises Series Elastic Actuators that enable force sensing at every joint, so a collision between Baxter and a human or object will be detected and Baxter will stop. Baxter also has three cameras (two in the wrists and one in the head), position, velocity, and torque sensing on every joint, a 360º sonar array, 3-axis Accelerometers and Iinfra-red rangefinders in each wrist.

The most recent additions to the lab are the cheeky little Nao twins Robbie and Archie. Robbie and Archie are 58cm tall humanoid robots who consist of sensors, motors and software and get their wizadry from their programming and animation. Using all our robots, students studying our BSc Computing for Robotic Systems, will be able to design, develop, construct and program a robot from basic principles learnt on the course.

In addition to these commercially available robots, the Cognitive Robotics Group, part of the department’s Intelligent Systems Engineering Centre, designs, builds and tests its own robotic kit. Take a look at their web page to see the exciting research they are engaged in.

Membership of the student Robotics Society is open to all the department’s students. The society meets regularly and organises trips and mini projects. George McDonnell runs the society and says "the Society provides an opportunity for students, on software related courses, to gain added skills in programming hardware, with the Arduino microcontroller, and it allows students to apply their knowledge of programming in an informal environment. It has given me practice in organisation and teamwork, but most of all, teaching and sharing experiences with others."

Library facilities

The university library allows you access to journals, a wide range of electronic sources, databases and catalogues. The facility, which includes slides, videos and CD-Roms as well as a comprehensive holding of books and periodicals, is run by the full-time Academic Liason Librarian.