Guest instructor opening students’ eyes to amateur radio

COLUMBIANA — Students at the South Side Middle School in Columbiana now have an opportunity to earn their amateur Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license.

South Side Principal Jason Martin said the after school program for grades 5-8 was initiated by Wade Boley, who also serves as the school district’s resource officer.

Boley has been a ham radio operator since 1992 and said he thought students would be interested in not only learning how to get their own FCC license, but also be able to delve deeper into electronic and wireless technology.

Obtaining an FCC license is not required as part of the volunteer after school program that meets each week on Tuesday afternoon, but it is a goal, he explained.

Once obtained, the license is something that students can maintain throughout the rest of their life, he added.

“Today’s students are very appreciative when their wireless technology works, and very frustrated when it doesn’t. They really have a thirst for knowledge about how this technology works, why it works, and how to fix it when it doesn’t, and how to improve it in the future,” he said.

Boley was pleasantly surprised when 30 students signed up for the program that is also overseen by middle school science teacher Ashlee Sherwood.

In the weeks since the program started students have started learning basic electrical theory and will progress to advanced theory in the future. The program will also teach students cell phone forensics and analysis, including evidence recovery.

“They will be doing some pretty advanced things,” Boley said.

The first class consisted of a class on the electromagnetic spectrum, co-taught by Sherwood, that consisted of allowing students to use infrared cameras and night vision goggles.

A military veteran and longtime police officer with forensic experience, Boley is not teaching the class as part of any of his police or SRO work, but simply to share the hobby he has been interested in over the last several years.

“A lot of today’s technologies have been the ideas of amateur radio hobbyists experimenting in their basements, and their ideas further developed and perfected at their day jobs in the technology industry,” Boley said. “Though it is true amateur radio provides critical emergency communications, it is also an incubator and think tank for future wireless technological development.”

Learning the hobby also helps prepare students for a totally wireless future.

Boley said that wireless technology has become the standard in everyday life, noting that in his own lifetime he has seen the move from hard-wire phones to wireless cell phone communication.

“Wifi application is the future. We are moving toward a completely wireless society with remote base application. We want to prepare our students for the future. The students in this class will have a solid understanding of wireless communication, its applications, and gain an understanding of how wireless technology works,” he said.

kwhite@mojonews.com

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