ITTC students win IEEE Paper contest

Houston,TX (04-21-2002)

From ITTC Press Release
By Michelle Ward

Two ITTC undergraduate students won first prize in the prestigious IEEE Region 5 Student Paper contest this spring. The duo will split an $800 cash prize and have their paper published in a book to be distributed to IEEE student chapters and libraries around the world.

Travis Plummer, Baxter Springs, and Bharath Parthasarathy, Madurai, India, won the contest in April with a paper on the development of a target simulator. The simulator will test the radar that maps the internal layers of the Greenland ice sheet.

The simulator will enable researchers to test the radars accuracy before taking it to Greenland for a NASA-funded study that investigates the melting of polar ice sheets and their relation to global climate change. It would be too expensive to take the radar to the ice caps for testing. Researchers only travel to Greenland once or twice a year.

ITTC Post Doctoral Research Associate Pannir Kanagaratnam mentored the two undergraduates. While working on his Ph.D. at KU, Kanagaratnam, a NASA Fellow, began working on the Greenland project. Since his graduation, he has continued researching and developing radar to explore the polar ice sheets. With his years of experience, Kanagaratnam could guide the students through the process of developing a simulator.

I am glad to see their hard work pay off, he said. They spent a lot of time on all phases of the project. They worked hard not only on the design and construction of the simulator but also on writing and presenting their work.

It is extremely important to know the radar will work before researchers journey to the north. They cannot test the radar within the continental United States, though, as it runs on the same frequency as wireless communication systems, including cell phones.

It costs a lot of money for researchers to go to these kinds of remote places, Parthasarathy said. But with the help of this target simulator they can test the radar system they build in the laboratory, avoiding costly trips to places like Greenland, and they could go only when they want to conduct experiments and get data from these ice sheets.

The IEEE Region 5 conference in Houston included students from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota and New Mexico.

The two went to Houston after winning the Kansas City section and Northern Area level, which included universities from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. The regional competition provides the highest level of competition for the duo since there is no national paper contest.

For more information, contact ITTC.

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