W5YD, MSU’s amateur radio club, celebrates over 100 years on the air

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Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—More than 100 years ago, the Mississippi State Amateur Radio Club, W5YD, became a federally licensed organization. Today, one of the university’s oldest active clubs inspires the next generation of amateur radio enthusiasts with a passion for service.

Since the club’s founding in 1920 as the Experimental Amateur Radio State 5YD, its members—all volunteers—have represented the state of Mississippi on the amateur radio bands, promoting goodwill and faith among nations and supporting local, state and national authorities in the event of an emergency.

Colby A. Stevens, club vice president and Issaquena County native, said W5YD amateur radio operators undergo extensive testing to obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission. Stevens said the group currently has 30 members, with a core of six or seven people actively involved in club meetings and station operations.

Patrick Younes, Colby Stevens and Logan Betts of the Mississippi State Amateur Radio Club, W5YD, set up an antenna on the driving range as part of a club recruiting event.
Officers from the Mississippi State Amateur Radio Club, W5YD, set up an antenna on the range in March 2021 as part of a club recruiting event. From left to right, they include Patrick Younes of Brownsboro, Alabama, secretary; Colby Stevens of Issaquena County, vice president; and Logan Betts of Brunswick, Georgia, president. (Photo submitted)

In addition to Stevens, the club’s current board of directors includes President Logan Betts of Brunswick, Georgia, a graduate student pursuing both a master’s and doctoral degree in mechanical engineering; and Secretary Patrick H. Younes of Brownsboro, Alabama, an electrical engineering junior.

Members represent a variety of academic majors, from wildlife and history to meteorology and engineering, and Stevens said the club seeks to build on that diversity.

“One of the primary purposes of ham radio is to help out in times of need, and our ham radio community is a friendly group of people willing to help others,” said the sophomore electrical engineering student. “We want to involve more people in W5YD because it means more help around the station and more feedback on the things we do.”

As part of Amateur Radio Week, W5YD is co-hosting a Field Day event with the Lowndes County Amateur Radio Club of Columbus, MFJ Amateur Radio Club and Magnolia Amateur Radio Club, both of Starkville. The free public event will take place starting at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday [June 26] at 4:00 p.m. CT Sunday [June 27] at the Community Counseling Services administrative office at West Point on the former campus of Mary Holmes College.

Stevens said the annual event, hosted nationally by the American Radio Relay League, serves as an informal competition for amateur radio operators in the United States and Canada to contact as many other stations as possible. The objective of the event is to simulate or practice an “all on deck” situation that would occur if a major national emergency were to disrupt business communication methods. Stevens said a 9-hour testing session will be offered on Saturday for those wishing to take the licensing exams required to become licensed amateurs. A “Get on the Air” or GOTA station will also be set up to give unauthorized persons the opportunity to try out amateur radio.

“We’re excited about Field Day because it’s the first time in nearly 10 years that W5YD has hosted this event,” Stevens said. “We encourage people to come talk to us and find out what we do. When I found out we had an amateur radio club on campus, I went to the first meeting and fell in love from there. Amateur radio is a very interesting hobby, and we would love to introduce new people to it.

For more information about the MSU Amateur Radio Club, visit w5yd.org.msstate.edu and follow Facebook @MSUW5YD. Stevens can also be reached at [email protected]

MSU is the main university in Mississippi, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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