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A new way to teach advanced undergraduate and graduate students the theory of estimation and detection is described. The paper shows that the global system mobile (GSM) radio interface is well suited to the teaching of estimation and detection theory because it entails the understanding and application of several concepts within estimation and detection, as well as information theory, signal processing, and radio-wave propagation. With GSM now a mature system with specifications available in the public domain, the students created an open-source (OS) GSM simulator, including all four modulation and coding schemes (MCS 1,2,3,4) with puncturing, a channel estimator, a minimum phase prefilter, a Max log maximum a posteriori probability (MAP) equalizer, and a convolutional decoder. Studying and understanding the theory of estimation and detection is now possible by creating algorithms for the simulator and evaluating the impact of the algorithm on the GSM block error rate (BLER). Several experiments that are possible with the simulator are described.