Engineer for a Day: Calin Cuciureanu, age 14, Toronto
Host: Grant Sadler, P.Eng., TELUS Mobility, Toronto


Millions of people in Canada and around the world use cellular phones. They are such great gadgets. With a cell phone, you can talk to anyone on the planet from just about anywhere! They are small and are easy to use. Without them it would be hard to communicate from different places such as while moving in your car or even walking. These days, cell phones provide an incredible array of functions, and new ones are being added at a breakneck pace.


Thank you Mr. Grant Sadler for sharing your thoughts and spending a great day with me! It was an experience that will be in my memory for quite a while.

In the morning I arrived at TELUS Mobility to meet Grant. He is a radio frequency engineer who tests and approves new cellular phones for the Mike Network. Unlike other cell phones, Mike integrates digital phone, dispatch (two-way radio), paging, e-mail and other services in one handset.

I was introduced to some of Grant's co-workers and friends. They explained how wireless networks would take over the telecommunications world. Interesting! Afterward we went to his office where lots and lots of cell phones, palms and small accessories were arranged on his desk, ready to be tested.

The next stop was the laboratory. This place was kind of big and contained all the necessities to test the newest cellular phones that would then be sold to the public. There Grant explained to me how a cellular antenna site works and how its coverage forms a hexagonal shape that looks like a cell… hence the name! I was sitting near a $200,000 spectrum analyzer that measured the signal at any frequency and could also demodulate analog transmission into sounds heard through the speakers. It seemed like there was a lot of noise going on because the signal looked pretty messy.

The best thing was that I got to test the newest prototype Mike handset, which the TELUS Mobility crew had tested. I could phone whoever I wanted and play games. A good thing about the Mike Network cellular phone is that you can use it as a walky-talky using a feature called dispatch.

I also got to see the RF isolation room where no signals can get in. They use this room to test the performance of the phones without the signals from the network interfering. It works… step in there and your phone goes out of service!!

The TELUS Mobility van was used for our trip through the streets. It was like another room from the laboratory. We had everything that we needed. We had to test some of the cellular phones that were brought from the laboratory. With the help of a laptop I could see how the frequencies from different sites were changing while moving. If we were far from an antenna, the signal was weak and vice versa. Also I was able to see how the phone switched frequencies from one site to another as we moved through the hexagonal coverage territories.

Another thing TELUS Mobility tests are the wireless laptop data cards for getting fast Internet access. It is as fast as from cable. Everything is wireless. There are no cables, just a 10 cm by 5 cm card. A good thing about this card is that you can search on the Internet or even play Internet games while moving. I even e-mailed a digital photo of myself to my friends from right there in the van!

Pretty cool!

At 3 o'clock I had to go home. As I said, it was a great day, full of information and cool stuff, and again I thank Mr. Grant Sadler for this.