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UC student assisting Tait with emergency communications

UC student assisting Tait to develop better emergency communications system

December 6, 2012

In light of the Canterbury earthquakes, the importance of robust communication systems has become very clear.

A University of Canterbury (UC) student engineer is working over summer at the largest private-sector employer in Christchurch – Tait Communications – to help research and develop better communication systems.

Tait is at the forefront of critical communications and is set to deliver high-availability, long term evolution (LTE) broadband solutions for public safety customers in the future.

UC electrical engineering student Wayne Laker is working at Tait over summer on a project that will enable access to cutting-edge technology such as video streaming via broadband in the field, even if the public 3G or 4G system is overloaded during an emergency.

Laker has just completed the third year of a four-year electrical engineering degree at UC and as part of his honours degree, is required to complete two periods of practical work in the industry totalling 800 hours.

Tait primarily develop, build and deliver critical communication systems for public safety customers, such as police, fire and ambulance, and also utility organisations. Laker’s role at Tait is within the testing team.

``It is a technically challenging and rewarding role. My project involves developing a new computer application that is capable of communicating with a number of radio devices and servers simultaneously.

``It will enable the efficient analysis of complex log files by providing a live summary. The application will be used by Tait employees to develop and test radio equipment now and in the future.

``The project involves working closely with the testing team to gain an understanding of which user interface design will be most productive for them. It also involves working with software engineers to ensure a technically sound and maintainable application is delivered. The application must fit within the existing software framework and is being developed using the Python programming language.

``My time at UC so far has provided a great learning experience and I am looking forward to my final year of study. The opportunity to work directly within the professional industry is invaluable and may provide a pathway to future employment. My experience at Tait will enable me to build on my theoretical knowledge and apply it in the workplace,’’ Laker said.

Frank Owen, Tait Communications’ chief executive, said Tait and UC had a long-standing and in-depth relationship built on a commitment to world-leading research and innovation.

``As a sponsor of the Department of Electrical Engineering at UC, Tait is a strong supporter of industry-specific, degree-level tertiary education. We hire 15 to 20 graduates from the course each year and employ a similar number through our summer-school programme.

``Tait is also a founding partner of the NZ ICT Innovation Institute (NZi3) and continues to provide funding and oversight of the university’s Wireless Research Centre.”

Mr Owen said UC continued to make a significant contribution to Tait’s global export success.

``Our technologies are driven by customer insight, continued learning and a commitment to world-class innovation. Tait’s partnership with UC allows us to bring together leading academic researchers from around the world, technology and communication-based companies, students and government to undertake ground-breaking research in wireless communication.’’


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