Course Overview

Sensors link the physical with the digital world by capturing and revealing real-world phenomena and converting these into a form that can be processed, stored, and acted upon. Integrated into numerous devices, machines, and environments, sensors provide a tremendous societal benefit. They can help avoid catastrophic failures of infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels, conserve precious natural resources, increase productivity, enhance security, and enable new applications such as context-aware systems and smart home technologies.

The phenomenal advances in technologies such as VLSI (very large scale integration), MEMS (microelectromechanical systems), and wireless communications further contribute to the widespread use of distributed sensor systems. For example, the impressive developments in semiconductor technologies continue to produce microprocessors with increasing processing capacities, while at the same time shrinking in size. The miniaturization of computing and sensing technologies enables the development of tiny, low-power, and inexpensive sensors, actuators, and controllers. Further, embedded computing systems (i.e., systems that typically interact closely with the physical world and that are designed to perform only a limited number of dedicated functions) continue to find application in an increasing number of areas.

This course provides students with an opportunity to learn the fundamentals behind the design of wireless sensor networks. A primary focus of this course is to give students hands-on programming experience with various sensors and sensing platforms.

In this course, students will have the opportunity to
  • learn the fundamental concepts of sensor network design,
  • learn to apply sensor network protocols, mechanisms, and algorithms to implement sensing systems,
  • design, program, simulate, and experiment with sensor network software and hardware, and
  • solve various sensor network design problems individually and in teams.


  • Fundamentals of Wireless Sensor Networks: Theory and Practice, Waltenegus Dargie and Christian Poellabauer, Wiley Series on Wireless Communication and Mobile Computing, September 2010.
  • TinyOS Programming, Philip Levis and David Gay, Cambridge University Press, 1st edition, April 2009 (online version).

Course Information:

  • Instructor: Christian Poellabauer
  • - Office hours: M1-2 & W9-10
  • - Office: 354 Fitzpatrick
  • - Email:

  • TA: Jun Yi
  • - Office hours: T2-3 & F10.30-11.30
  • - Location: DARTS Lab (356B Fitz)
  • - Email:

  • Class location: DeBartolo 118
  • Lecture times: MW 10.40-11.30am

News Items:

Homework 4 is now available!
Project 3 is now available (deadline midnight 12/6)!
Homework 3 is now available!
Homework 2 is now available!
Project 2 is now available (deadline midnight 10/13)!
Homework 1 is now available!
Project 1 is now available (deadline extended to midnight 9/17)!