One of President Barack Obama’s well-known quotes just resurged in the media, thanks to a new book which gets its title from a very relevant (notably in this election year) quote: “We are the change that we seek.” And that change has resonated with 19 University of Missouri (Mizzou) students; Mizzou and AT&T launched the course “Connectivity and 5G,” which explores the impact of wireless technology.

5G’s impact examined

Connectivity and 5G will explore advanced wireless technology’s impact on campus environments. It uses a multidisciplinary approach with both students and instructors from a variety of fields of study, including business, engineering, journalism, and architectural studies.

Students earn course credits for projects, which may potentially inform new use cases and user experiences in the areas of education, healthcare, public safety, sports, entertainment, to name a few.

With innovation and an eye to a cash prize awarded in May, students will find ways to use 5G in their field of study. The new immersive 5G course/competition may be the first, but certainly not the last of its kind, as other campuses scramble to further integrate technology into classes, and provide hands-on learning, so students will be well-prepared post-graduation.

SEE: Rural America is in the midst of a mental health crisis. Tech could help some patients see a way forward. (TechRepublic cover story) | Download the free PDF version

Solving complex problems with 5G

The AT&T and Mizzou course began in January. Four teams of students will focus on solving complex problems facing the student body, alumni, campus administration, employees and visitors who use 5G and edge computing. Each team will focus on a specific industry, and a creative solution using 5G.

The four teams are divided up into the following areas and focus on solutions for the selected area:

  1. Health care
  2. Sports
  3. Campus safety
  4. Higher education

The healthcare team, for example, is looking at how faster internet speed can improve healthcare, and is focused on using 5G in a hospital setting, and toured the university hospital to determine the best ways to integrate 5G.

Visiting AT&T’s Dallas headquarters

Both students and faculty began the course with a field trip to Dallas for an intensive two-day session on the evolution of 5G tech. In addition to workshops at the AT&T headquarters, they were given a private tour of the AT&T stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play. The stadium was set up with 5G features to improve the game-day experience, and included a photo booth where fans can take a picture with CGIs of the football players.

“We hear about virtual reality and other aspects of 5G technology, but many people can’t actually experience them,” said Taylar Warren, a Mizzou senior studying journalism, in a press release. “Seeing some of the small tools, like ‘Pose with the Pros,’ got me thinking of how I can bring the technology back to Mizzou to improve the student experience.”

SEE: 5G technology: A business leader’s guide (TechRepublic Premium)

May the best 5G innovation win

The course final project will be a competition between the four teams as they present research findings to Mizzou faculty and AT&T mentors, who will then select the best idea.

The winning team will receive a cash award, and the possibility of having their idea become reality.

Students have already introduced some innovative and potentially exciting ideas, such as a game-day traffic control tool that could efficiently allocate security and police officers to help manage crowd control, and ways to improve the hospital setting, particularly in rural areas.

Technology has been immersed into more and more fields of study (thus, correlating with the many industries that have already or soon will, fully embrace tech into operations).

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

More universities jumping on 5G

After an idea is selected at the University of Missouri and that first course is completed, AT&T will bring other university collaborations into focus, at the University of Miami and the College of Engineering at Purdue. The 5G service is expected to be completed this spring at both schools.

At Miami, the 5G+ network will be located in high-traffic computing locations, such as the College of Engineering, the Otto G. Richter Library, and in the School of Architecture. Additional plans will add more 5G+ zones throughout campus.

Purdue’s College of Engineering will use its 5G to accelerate research and innovation in manufacturing, smart cities, agricultural technology, and rural broadband. Specifically, Purdue is looking to solve societal challenges like disaster recovery in rural and agricultural areas.

Students and 5G are the future

“5G is increasing the possibilities of technology and will expand business opportunities across industries,” said Mo Katibeh, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, AT&T business, in a press release. “Our work with universities is helping create new visionary approaches to innovation and problem solving that will pave the way for the future.”

Back at Mizzou, there’s a bit of speculation and prediction: “I think the hardest thing will be that there are so many possibilities with 5G,” said Kaitlyn Zahn, a senior studying computer science. “It is such a big field, that we don’t really know what question we are answering yet.”

Mizzou students Andrew Moore (left) and Kaitlyn Zahn (right) discuss ideas for 5G with other class participants during their trip to Dallas.
Image: University of Missouri