Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville Amateur Radio Operators to Spend 30 Straight Hours Searching Airwaves for Stations for National Contest

KINGSVILLE - November 11, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Team of students and faculty compete with other collegiate teams Nov. 15-16

KINGSVILLE (November 11, 2008) — Students and faculty of Texas A&M University-Kingsville will demonstrate their love of amateur radio by spending 30 hours on the air November 15-17, as part of a national contest.

A collegiate team of six to ten A&M-Kingsville members, sponsored by the Physics Club, will find and speak with as many amateur radio stations as possible, as part of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) 75th Anniversary Sweepstakes Contest.

The A&M-Kingsville team, made up of student and faculty amateur radio operators, will take shifts from the hours of Saturday, Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. to Sunday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. in the S. Burgin Dunn Radio Room of Hill Hall, on the A&M-Kingsville campus. They will be competing with some two dozen other collegiate teams across the country, which typically include Stanford, M.I.T. and Harvard, among others.

The winners receive certificates and plaques of merit, but according to faculty advisor Charles Allison, lecturer in the physics department, the contest is mainly a chance for the amateur operators to gain the experience of working under a small bit of pressure, and to have some fun.

“Winning the contest and even just participating carries some prestige. This gives our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to compete in a major contest in the world of radio sport.

“While it isn’t a spectator sport, radio sport offers the same benefits of conventional sports, such as teamwork and competitive spirit. What’s more, with this, we’re competing with some of the best educational institutes around in something closer to an academic pursuit than an athletic game.”

The amateur radio operating facility at A&M-Kingsville is known on its broadcasting license as the Herschel Rawls Memorial Amateur Radio Station. It is named in honor of an engineer that worked at a Federal Communications Commission monitoring station once located south of Kingsville. Rawls left part of his estate to the university, to equip their amateur radio facilities. Dr. Robert Diersing, associate provost for information technology and chief information officer, is the trustee listed on the station license.

A long time amateur radio operator at the station, Diersing believes the contest will expose students and the university community to a resource they probably don’t know is available.

“There are many specializations within amateur radio, and one of them is public service,” said Diersing.

“Prior to the launch of the International Space Station, the university amateur radio station was used a number of times to provide the radio link from the land line telephone system to the Space Shuttle, while elementary, middle and high school students participated in a question and answer session with one of the astronauts.

“Nowadays, we think we can do it all with a cell phone, and we can most of the time. But just a few years ago after Hurricane Katrina, many calls went out to amateur radio operators to help provide communications assistance. Not too many cell towers were working.”

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