Engineering students advance to finals in national competition

By By Paige Fieldsted

By Paige Fieldsted

Most people have had experiences with dropped calls or busy networks, but this situation can be beyond frustrating when the call is made in an emergency situation.

Often, if the network is busy, authorities have been unable to pass along vital information that could help save lives.

Several students in the engineering department are working on what could be a solution to the problem.

Peiman Amini, Salam Akoum, Xuehong Mao, Ehsan Azarnasab, Harsha Rao and Shafagh Abbasi, all electrical engineering majors, are working to develop a Smart Radio.

The U team of engineers entered a competition to build a Smart Radio in November. They submitted a 25-page proposal on how they would go about building it.

Recently, the team was named one of eight finalists out of 43 teams from 12 countries around the world.

Current radios only operate on a fixed frequency shared by everyone. Smart Radios would be able to sense their environment and react based on the needs of the operator.

Amini, team leader, said, “the Smart Radios can dynamically change frequency bands.”

This means that the radios would no longer be operating on the same frequency as others.

The team will be working on its design for a Smart Radio now through November, when its will enter the next phase of judging.

“It is unclear how the designs will be judged from now on,” said Behrouz Farhang, professor of electrical and computer engineering, “There are still a lot of details to be worked out.”

The team received more than $100,000 worth of hardware needed to build a Smart Radio from the sponsors of the challenge and an additional $10,000 from L3 Communications-West, a local company, for advancing in the challenge.

Currently there are no Smart Radios in operation, but the team said it hopes to see its implementation within the next two or three years.

This means emergency responders would be able to send vital information at crucial times, without having to compete with everyone else on the networks.

“There is no better place to introduce this groundbreaking technology than where it can save lives,” Amini said.

Fahrang said, “the Smart Radio is the next generation of communication.”

“We want the world to know that we are good and can compete with the best. This challenge lets us do that, ” Fahrang said.

Lisa Teran

Dr. Behrouz Farhang-Boroujeny, adviser in the electrical engineering department, discusses the concepts that helped his team become finalists in the Smart Radio Challenge