96 Amateur Radio Licenses Granted at Cal Poly Licensing Session

November 16, 2011

Dr. Dennis Derickson (AC0P), Cal Poly Electrical Engineering Department Chair, conceived the Freshman Licensing Initiative which gives every student a chance to get their radio license as part of the EE111 Introduction to Electrical Engineering Course curriculum. This test session was administered during the 50-minute class period and counted as one of the midterm exams for the freshman students. 11 Volunteer Examiners assisted in checking IDs and administering the exam along with a dozen other volunteers to coordinate the event. Of the 189 students enrolled in the class, 114 opted to take the official FCC exam and attempt to get their licenses. The 85% that succeeded already had their callsigns posted to the FCC website on Monday due to tremendous efforts from the ARRL VEC (American Radio Relay League Volunteer Examiner Coordinator office) to process the results, letting these students get on the air in no time.

Hosted by the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club (CPARC), this event broke its previous record of 62 new licensees, set earlier this year on Oct 1, 2011. This session is likely the largest Amateur Radio License Testing Session ever held at the collegiate level. Special testing arrangements were made with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to accommodate this large group. These 96 new amateur radio operators will join more than 700,000 other hams in the US in providing volunteer and emergency communications support for everything from local bike rides and parades to global disaster relief, including the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Members from CPARC hosted review sessions to help students prepare to pass their exam and get introductory knowledge on a wide variety of electrical engineering topics. Getting an amateur radio license is the first step towards many career opportunities in the communications industry,  from  engineering  UAVs, integrating Wi-Fi on  the  Amazon Kindle, to  creating  4G cell phone networks, to designing communication subsystems on DirecTV satellites. CPARC members are regularly learning about radios through retuning filters on radios, building directional antennas for transmitter hunts, and putting together an emergency vehicle tracking network for the Wildflower Triathlon using two dozen radios and GPS units, digital repeaters, and internet gateways.

Founded in 1947, the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club has a long tradition of communications service on campus and in the San Luis Obispo community. The club maintains Emergency Communications Station No. 16 on the Cal Poly Campus for the San Luis Obispo Emergency Communications Council  (SLOECC)  which  is  equipped  with  emergency  power  and  radio equipment to support various public safety agencies in the event of a disaster. More information about the club can be found at

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Photos from this event attached courtesy of Garrett Dong KI6YML and Marcel Stieber AI6MS. Reproduction only with appropriate credits. Full-resolution files available upon request.