It’s one of the most pressing challenges facing the wireless
industry today: how to deploy the small cells that are essential to network
expansion and performance into densely populated areas without disrupting the
functionality and aesthetics of the urban environment.
Last year, engineers at CommScope’s Richardson, Texas site
posed that challenge to a team of six undergraduate engineering students at
nearby University of Texas-Dallas—and the idea they came up with solves the
problem effectively and attractively.
CLICK TO TWEET: J. Chris Cook explains how CommScope worked with enginnering students from the University of Texas at Dallas to design the prototype for the "Metro Bench."
Called the Metro Bench, the students’ solution installs a
complete small cell antenna system around an existing city street pole and
seamlessly integrates a sidewalk bench and roof into the design. The antenna is
mounted at the top of the pole and the radio equipment is securely housed in a
cabinet built into the bench and roof structure. The solution not only conceals
the small cell system but also adds a valuable and aesthetically-pleasing
asset—a sheltered seating area for pedestrians to stop and rest—to the urban
CommScope sponsored the student project, providing funding
for materials and equipment as well as design guidance and technical support.
Al Gienger, senior mechanical engineer, and I worked with the students on the
concept, design and build phases of the solution.
Al and I met with the students on a weekly basis to review
their work and give feedback at each step of the process from start in
September 2018 to finish in May 2019. The student-built, full-sized Metro Bench
prototype will be on display in the Richardson Innovation Center
We believe that engaging with student teams like this is
rewarding for both the students and CommScope. Students get the benefit of a
real-world design problem and the ‘sage advice’ from industry veterans to
confirm or expand on their class and lab work. We get a team of energetic and
creative engineers with no pre-conceived notions of how things should work—and
the end product is often a fresh approach.
There are many forward-looking projects that are critical to
CommScope’s future. Having student’s help to develop them is a great way to get
these projects started and advanced to a point where commercialization is much