Archive for Tuesday, January 14, 2014

KU gets $450k Department of Defense grant to study bandwidth efficiency

January 14, 2014

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Kansas University has received a $450,000 Department of Defense grant to explore what the lead researcher says will probably be “one of our biggest issues in modern times.”

That’s bandwidth, a finite resource with ever-increasing demand.

Sarah Seguin, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and principal investigator on the grant, explained that the military has traditionally been one of the largest electromagnetic spectrum users. But as smartphones and other wireless consumer devices eat up more and more bandwidth, the military — at risk for having its portion reallocated — is increasingly realizing the need for efficiency.

KU’s grant, announced Thursday, will pay for equipment to research increasing the availability on the currently usable portion of the spectrum, according to a news release. Seguin said equipment has begun arriving and some will be in use by the end of this month.

KU’s grant was in a batch of awards totaling $38.7 million announced in June by the Department of Defense, according to a Department of Defense news release. The awards, made under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, went to 140 university researchers at 77 institutions.

Seguin is an investigator in KU’s Radar Systems and Remote Sensing Lab. Her co-principal investigators on the grant are electrical engineering and computer science associate professors Shannon Blunt and Erik Perrins and professors Christopher Allen and Ron Hui.

Work on the new grant will continue research Seguin started at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in summer 2012, she said. The research is focused on improving radar and communication, which is critical to the military, she said. The technology is used for everything from detecting approaching planes to communicating with troops on the ground.

However, she said, KU’s new equipment will test and refine concepts that also will benefit private enterprise, such as companies focused on communications. Seguin said business-initiated research often is more specific to their products while government-funded research may seek broader impact, beyond military operations.

“People don’t really realize this,” she said, “but the Department of Defense funds some of the most cutting-edge research that affects our everyday life.”

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