Computer/Communications Networks Program (CCN)
Program of Study
A specialization in computer and communications networks is available within the master’s degree program of the Computer Science (CS) Department.
Students enrolled in this specialization will receive the master of science degree in computer science, with a notation on their transcript “Specialization in Computer and Communications Networks (CCN).” The program is focused on preparing students for professional positions in industry, but the education also provides excellent preparation for Ph.D. study in networks.
This program prepares graduates for technical leadership positions in the design and implementation of computer and communications networks, including local- and wide-area computer networking, distributed computation, telecommunications (including voice, data and video services), wireless networking and personal mobile communications. All of the fundamental hardware and software aspects of networks will be treated in the program:
- The seven layers of the ISO network model
- Transmission media and terminals (including fiber optics, cable and radio)
- Switching and routing methods (including packet switching)
- Systems modeling and performance analysis
- Methods of distributed computation
- Current and evolving standards and protocols
- Impacts of the information type (voice, video, text, etc.) on optimal transmission and routing methods
An accelerated part-time option is available with cooperating corporations, with program completion possible in two years.
Each student in the CCN specialization must complete an in-depth project demonstrating the ability to apply and extend the material studied in their coursework. Students have the option of completing a practice-oriented internship or a research-oriented thesis.
The internship is a high-level network engineering experience, tailored to the specific interests and background of the student. Each internship is carried out in cooperation with a sponsoring organization, and must be approved and advised by a WPI faculty member in the CS department. Internships may be proposed by a faculty member, by an offcampus sponsor or by the student. The internship must include proposal, design and documentation phases, and generally includes implementation and testing. The student will prepare a report describing the internship activities, and will make a presentation before a committee including the faculty advisor and a representative of the sponsoring organization. Internship examples include transceiver design for new media, security and encryption protocols, protocol converters, databases to support efficient routing, and network system designs.
The thesis option for the CCN project is a research-oriented experience in an area of current research in an area of computer and communications networks. The thesis must be pursued under the direction of a WPI faculty member in the CS department. The result of the thesis is a thesis document, describing the results of the research, and a public presentation.
The program is conducted at an advanced technical level and requires, in addition to the WPI admissions requirements, a solid background in computer science (CS). Normally a B.S. degree in CS is expected; however, applicants with comparable backgrounds, together with expertise gained through work experience, will also be considered. Admission is highly selective and decisions will be based both on previous academic performance and on relevant technical experience. Admission decisions are made by the CS department.
(4 courses, 12 credits):
- Analysis of Probabilistic Signals and Systems or Analysis of Computations and Systems (ECE 502, CS 504, or CS 524)
- Introduction to Local- and Wide-Area Networks (CS 513)
and two of the following courses:
- Telecommunications Transmission Technologies (ECE 535)
- High Performance Networks (CS 530)
- Advanced Computer and Communications Networks (CS 577)
- Modeling and Performance Evaluation of Networks and Computer Systems (CS 533)
(at least three from list):
- Digital Communications: Modulation and Coding (ECE 532)
- Advances in Digital Communication (ECE 533)
- Multiple Processor and Distributed Systems (CS 515)
- Advanced Operating System Theory (CS 535)
- Design of Software Systems (CS 509)
- Multimedia Networking (CS 529)
- Wireless Information Networks (ECE 538)
- Cryptography and Data Security (CS 578)
- Advanced Cryptography (ECE 579R)
- Telecommunication Policy (ECE 508)
- Mobile Data Networking (ECE 539S)
- Any of the courses ECE 535, CS 530, CS 577, and CS 533 not taken to satisfy the required courses above.
The student must complete one of the following:
- Computer and Communications Networks Internship (CS 595) (6 credits)
This project requirement may be waived with documentation of relevant industrial experience. The waiver must be approved by the CS Graduate Program Committee in consultation with the CCN director. If this requirement is waived, the student must take two additional courses from the list of elective courses above, or two additional courses approved by the department’s Graduate Program Committee.
- Master’s thesis in the area of computer and communications networks
Free electives may be used to bring the total to 33 credits. Courses may be chosen from relevant graduate-level courses in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, mathematics or management. Some students will need to use these electives to satisfy the area requirements for the CS master’s degree core.
Since the CCN specialization is a specialization in the master’s programs of the Computer Science Department, students in the CCN specialization must also satisfy all requirements of the computer science master’s program. While ECE courses may be used to satisfy some of the CCN requirements, there is a limit to the number of courses outside of Computer Science that students may apply towards their Computer Science master’s degree.