Amateur Radio Club supports students to explore radio and electronics

Todd Evans, Copy Editor

The ability to communicate almost instantaneously around the world using technology is a modern wonder that many seem to take for granted. The new Pioneer Amateur Radio Club encourages students to explore and appreciate this world of electronics and radio frequencies.

The club was chartered last spring semester with Student Government Association Senate approval. This semester is its first full active semester of recruiting and activities.

Recruiting for the club, besides spreading the word, includes fighting misconceptions about amateur radio being a single track activity.

“People think of it as a very specific hobby but this is not just you talking with people on [the] radio about whatever is going on in Zimbabwe,” said Club President Matt Mullins, call sign KD2MLR. “The thing I want people to see is this is an electronics club, this is a tinkering club, this is a hobbies club, this club is whatever we want it to be because we can make it whatever we want it to be.”

The Amateur Radio Club is the brainchild of Mullins who has been interested in tearing apart and tinkering with technology to learn how it works since childhood.  

Mullins’ pathway, though, into amateur radio was through emergency preparedness.

“I always have been interested in the emergency preparedness thing, I feel like we live in very convulsive times where things are very rapid to change,” he said. “I’m part of the doomsday-prepper crowd to a certain degree. I like being prepared. I feel that as a proper citizen I should be well informed and well prepared.”

Club member and institutional liaison officer Zach Thomas also became interested in amateur radio because of its value during an emergency.

“I got into it because thinking about it radio is the only way to communicate at a certain point,” said Thomas.

Amateur radio is useful after a disaster disables regular communication systems because when the internet, telephone lines and even cellular towers are down radio transmissions can still be sent.

This very scenario is ongoing in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria’s destruction of the island’s infrastructure.

Currently, club membership is about 15 active members with six members becoming licensed amateur radio operators this semester through the American Radio Relay League and the Federal Communications Commission.

As membership grows Mullins wants to organize amateur radio activities like fox hunting, which is the search for a radio transmitter hidden within a designated area using mobile radio gear.

The club is one of three collegiate amateur radio organization in the state with the other two being at Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Mark Sacharoff, who is a William Paterson University information technology employee and amateur radio enthusiast, serves as the club’s advisor.

He was instrumental in getting a Diamond X50A Dualband Antenna attached to the Machuga Student Center’s roof that feeds into the club’s office.

The Pioneer Amateur Radio Club meets every other Thursday in the Student Center’s third-floor lounge down the hall from their office in room 310.

They can also be reached at [email protected] or through social media for more information.