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Wireless Institute Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities in the Wireless Institute

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The Wireless Institute at the University of Notre Dame will conduct a 10-week summer undergraduate research program called Advanced Wireless Research Experiences (AWaRE). AWaRE provides opportunities for undergraduate EE and CSE majors to experience hands-on innovative research alongside faculty and graduate students and staff.

Students continuing college enrollment in the Fall of 2019 with interest in wireless networking, robotics, UVA’s and mobile computing are invited to apply. Women and minority students are encouraged to apply. Participants must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Online Application

 

 

 Advanced Wireless Communications for Drone Swarms

Project Summary: The expanding vision for applications of drone swarms has generated significant interest but has also raise numerous technical challenges related to high-speed, low-latency, and reliable communications over drone-to-ground and drone-to-drone wireless links. To address problems in this space, our team has been developing a low-profile computation and communications platform for drones and collaborating with drone control and software engineering researchers to conduct preliminary flight tests and data collections. 

Student’s Role: The REU student will work with graduate students, a software engineer, and the faculty advisor to design experiments and process collected data to characterize wireless network performance and improve wireless protocols for drone control and sensor data streaming. Basic proficiency in hardware and software from electrical engineering and computer science can be applied to these projects, and experience flying drones and/or operating amateur radios are a big plus. 

Principal Investigator: J. Nicholas Laneman, Co-Director, Wireless Institute, Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application 

RadioHound: A Low-Cost Spectrum Sensor

Project Summary: RadioHound, an ongoing project at NDWI, is the development of low-cost, portable spectrum measurement sensors capable of tuning over a wide range of frequencies commonly used by everything from cellular phones to wireless local area networks, to radios and televisions. One goal is to distribute these sensors over a wide geographical area and thereby crowd-source the real-time measurements to create a “heat-map” of spectrum usage over the area and across frequency. Such a map would be used, for example, to determine where spectrum congestion is dense. 

Student’s Role: The project has many hardware and software components and opportunities for students to contribute, depending on their technical software and hardware maturities and skillsets. Basic hardware and laboratory capabilities, and knowledge of C, Python, and networking are a plus, but not required. In particular, we have openings for: (1) laboratory measurement help with the experimental verification of heat-maps that are generated by these sensors. Hence, knowledge of laboratory equipment and practices is advantageous; (2) web-application software development to help with displaying and controlling various aspects of the RadioHound system. Hence, knowledge of web development is advantageous. 

Principal Investigator: Bertrand Hochwald, Co-Director, Wireless Institute, Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application 

Software-Defined Antennas with Phase-Change Materials

Project Summary: Reconfigurable antennas and distributed circuits have become extremely relevant for today’s extremely wideband spectrum operations. Military applications require spectrum sensing from HF to 100’s of GHz, and commercial industry is interested in leveraging software-defined radios covering the “DC” to 6 GHz band. In either case, recent advances in transistors can provide low-pass frequency response covering DC to 100’s of GHz. However, at some point these electronics must interface with antennas whose dimensions are fundamentally tied to the frequency of operation, they are band-pass structures. For this reason, single antennas cannot provide wideband frequency coverage to match that of the electronics. We have recently demonstrated 1D programmable transmission lines based upon metallic inclusions in a vanadium dioxide (VO2) film with low on-state loss and high off-state isolation. Such a material enables programmable antennas which are capable of matching the bandwidth of the electronics and can, therefore, offer revolutionary solutions to wireless sensing and communications. This project will extend the 1D proof-of-concept to a 2D programmable material for the purpose of antenna applications. 

Student’s Role: The student will participate in electromagnetic simulations of 2D programmable VO2 films to help understand the performance and limitations of the material. They will develop electromagnetic models and circuit models for rapid design. They will assist graduate students on antenna design and finally on measurements of preliminary antenna designs. 

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Chisum, Assistant Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application 

Radar Signal Processing and Data Analysis

Project Summary: Notre Dame is involved in the development and implementation of target detection and identification concepts for radar applications. Evaluation of these concepts will be assessed experimentally using software-defined radar platforms. The research for the undergraduate student is expected to involve participation in experiments to evaluate one or more radar concepts, depending on project needs. The student will have opportunities to contribute to various facets of the research, including field tests, data analyses, and documentation. 

Student’s Role: Research opportunities for the undergraduate student will involve one or more topics associated with radar, including advanced radar architectures, distributed radar systems, and novel target characterizations. The undergraduate students will participate in radar literature surveys, radar subsystem implementations (in Matlab), field experimentation, and data analysis. The student is expected to provide research products in the form of slides and weekly status reports. The undergraduate students will work on a team 4 of researchers that includes the PI, research engineers, and graduate students. The student will gain exposure to radar concepts as well as to state-of-the-art equipment, including a software-defined radios, a custom $700K multi-antenna transceiver system, and two 9-ton field research vehicles that are used in experimentation. 

Principal Investigator: Tom Pratt, Research Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application 

WiFi Leaf Detection System

Project Summary: For a significant portion of the US, a challenge that happens every fall is that of managing the pickup / handling of yard waste due to tree leaves. This is a particularly noteworthy problem for St. Joseph County where the University of Notre Dame is located. A major logistical challenge is how to deploy leaf pickup services so as to maximize the efficacy of pickup, i.e. it does little good to pick up leaves if there is minimally piled up leaves to pick up. The focus of this REU project will be to explore how we can leverage WiFi to potentially sense the level of leaves still on the trees versus on the ground by virtue of path loss from fixed as well as residential WiFi. This project will explore the extent to which one can fuse passive WiFi sensing from individuals (smartphone apps) and mobile sensors mounted on city vehicles. 

Student’s Role: The student's role will be to conduct experiments to gather / test various hypotheses with regards to WiFi signal strength impacts across the campus and local South Bend area. Efforts will focus on the development of data gathering using Raspberry Pi nodes and Android apps for broader distribution. 

Principal Investigator: Aaron Striegel, Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application 

High Linearity GaN Transistors for Enhanced LNA Dynamic Range

Project Summary: Novel transistor designs for improved linearity in GaN-based FETs are being explored for their potential to improve dynamic range in mm-wave low noise amplifiers (LNAs). This project includes device design, modeling, fabrication, and characterization of devices, as well as design of low-noise amplifiers (based on the extracted models) and comparison with designs based on conventional transistors in order to fully understand the potential benefits and any associated design trade-offs for mm-wave receiver applications. 

Student’s Role: Student involvement in this project can take several forms; focus on one particular aspect (e.g. device design, characterization, LNA design) is anticipated. For example, for device design work student would perform physics-based TCAD simulations of candidate designs, and optimize the device structure for best input IP3 and gain performance. For characterization, fabricated devices will be characterized on-wafer using nonlinear vector network analysis and on-wafer noise-parameter measurements in order to experimentally characterize the nonlinearities as well as noise figure and noise parameters. LNA design will include design of mm-wave LNA blocks (e.g. single-stage amplifier with reactive matching) to form the basis of comparative studies between new and conventional device designs. 

Principal Investigator: Patrick Fay, Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,

Online Application 

Characterizing Information Leakage in Low Power Wireless Modules

Project Summary: Due to tight on-die integration in low-cost, low-power wireless modules, digital and mixed-signal subsystems are often placed very close to each other. Noise coupling from the digital system is often indicative of the computations being performed and thus leaks information to the outside world. We would like to characterize this leakage and see what all can be inferred from power analysis and wireless signal analysis. 

Student’s Role: The student will be conducting in-lab experiments with development boards containing blue-tooth, and other wireless modules. The student will be working with software-defined radio kits in order to see what all information can be gathered from wireless leakage through electromagnetic and wireless methods. 

Principal Investigator: Siddharth Joshi, Assistant Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application  

Collaborative Intelligent Radio Systems for Congested Wireless Environments

Project Summary: The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), currently targeting a radio frequency (RF) band centered around 3.5 GHz, represents a breakthrough in wireless technology and policy in the United States. For the first time, widespread commercial cellular networks based upon LTE technology will intelligently utilize RF spectrum that has otherwise been exclusively reserved for government systems like Navy radars. As RF spectrum becomes more crowded, and sharing spectrum among very different commercial and government systems becomes the norm, wireless system engineers need to build radios and network services that are much more context-aware and collaborative compared to current designs, basically redesigning such systems from the ground up to be more resilient to interference in congested environments. To address problems in this space, our team has been developing prototypes, models, and algorithms for what is being called a collaborative intelligent radio system (CIRS). A CIRS needs to be able to sense what is going on in the RF spectrum in and around its intended band of operation, and then adaptive its transmission formats and receiver signal processing algorithms accordingly. Our radio prototypes are based upon software-defined radio (SDR), with which our team has extensive experience. Student projects involve learning how to use and develop for the prototyping platform, designing and implementing a set of new features, and testing and demonstrating those features to the group. 

Principal Investigator: J. Nicholas Laneman, Co-Director, Wireless Institute, Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application 

Human-Robot Collaboration

Project Summary: In Human-Robot Collaboration, robots are expected to work next to human in warehouses, daily housekeeping, and other robot assistant applications safely, intelligently and friendly. To achieve this goal, the robotic system should be equipped with capacities of understanding intentions of human partners and reasoning according to the behaviors of human partners and the state of the environment. The main idea is to combine the learning-based approach with traditional high-level task planning algorithms. The first step is to build a human model using data collected from visual perception system such as stereo cameras. Based on the learned human model, robots could infer intentions of human partners using the data collected during run-time. For example, in the handover task, the robot could track the skeleton of the human, collect data from several demonstrations and then infer the human intention. Once the robots understand the human intention, they could behave collaboratively with the human according to decisions made by high-level task planning algorithms.

Student’s Role: Develop algorithms to track human movements and collect data from demonstrations. Build human models using Bayesian Non-parametric learning algorithms to ensure robots could infer the human intention correctly. Develop high-level task planning algorithms to enable the robot to behave collaboratively with human partners. Implement these algorithms on the Baxter robot. Background/interest in visual perception, control algorithms, Bayesian learning. Preferred skills in MATLAB, C/C++, Linux, and Python.

Principal Investigator: Hai Lin, Associate Professor

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,

Online Application

Coordinated Robots Through Wireless Communications

Project Summary: This REU project aims to develop a team of robotic systems that can accomplish complex team missions even in the face of uncertain and dynamic environments. Applications that motivate this project include, but not limited to, emergency response, future manufacturing systems, and service robots.

In this REU project, we will touch topics not only on hardware/software development but also on theoretical/algorithm design, such as communication-aware coordinated motion planning, task planning through formal methods, a counterexample-guided synthesis which combines logic inference with optimization. 

Student’s Role: Develop algorithms to synthesize robust trajectories, and to adapt the trajectories during run-time to deal with unknown obstacles or other agents in the environment. Implement these algorithms in robots such as Pioneer 3AT/3DX and Baxter. Background/interest in optimization, embedded systems, control, algorithms, real-time programming. Preferred skills in MATLAB, C/C++, and Linux. 

Principal Investigator: Hai Lin, Associate Professor 

Contact: Tiffanie Sammons, 275 Fitzpatrick Hall, 574-631-8264,  

Online Application