2011 Projects and Presentations


The students and mentors in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program have recently finalized which projects they will be working on, and with whom they will be working. During the course of the program, each of the groups convenes in a combined weekly meeting to share their progress.

Randall Nealy and Dr. Carl Dietrich will be working on a project called “SDR Receiver for Amateur Satellite Signals” with students Oscar Colon (InterAmerican University, Puerto Rico), Noel Torres (Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico), Edwin Cordova (Virginia Tech), and Zachary Leffke (Virginia Tech). These students will develop a software-defined radio (SDR) receiver to receive communications signals that are relayed by amateur radio satellites. The students will begin by using a commercial hardware based receiver to receive the signals and will then develop one or  more iterations of an SDR receiver that includes an RF front end (off  the shelf universal software radio peripheral or USRP and other RF components such as amplifiers and filters, as required). Optionally, the SDR receiver will automatically tune to the transmitting frequency of one of two or more satellites during each satellite’s available times. The receiver will simply tune in to the amateur satellite signals; there will be no tracking, control, or telemetry data involved.

Students Angel Martinez (University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez) and William Clark (Virginia Tech) and mentor Ashwin Amanna will be working on a project called “OODA Study and Investigation.” This project involves the four key cycles incorporated in cognitive radio operations: observation, orientation, decision, and action, also known as the OODA loop.  Each one of these phases has associated time lags within them.  A key research question is defining where each of these phases begins and ends, and quantifying them under cognitive operations. This knowledge will be key to the development of further cognitive architectures, as well as for attack and defense on cognitive operations. A common saying is that the opponent that can operate their OODA loop the fastest will prevail. Students will set up a transmitter/receiver link and send a file across the transmission link under varying external interference that will be mitigated by a cognitive engine.  Using this system model, they will define each of the elements of the OODA loop, justifying their selection, and will then track the time stamps of a packet as it traverses through the cycle and across the transmission link.

Dr. Bose and Barathram Ramkumar will be working with students Shiwei (Tom) Mao (Virginia Tech), Mohit Iyyer (Washington University, Missouri), and Thomas Voight (Kansas State University) on the project “Cognitive Jammer.” Conventional jammers disturb the operation of malicious users by sending a high power noise in the frequency band.  Malicious users can easily identify the presence of conventional jamming signals and adapt their operations accordingly. The goal of this project is to develop Cognitive Jammers (CJ) that overcome the disadvantages of conventional jammers by covertly jamming the malicious users in the frequency band. The proposed CJ will generate a covert jamming signal by taking into consideration the following: modulation type used by the malicious users, type of licensed users operating in the frequency band, channel conditions, and energy in the band. A rudimentary cognitive jammer has been developed using USRP1. The students’ task is to update the system to USRP 2 and implement it in the CORNET. Students should also make improvements to the system.

Dr. Thamvichai and Dan DePoy will be working on a project entitled “Anti-jammer Jamming Detector” with students Rafael Negron-Maldonado (University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez) and Carlos Lopez (Caribbean University, Puerto Rico). In this project, CORNET could be used to implement some sort of DSA radio application.  Students could specifically focus on spectrum sensing, signal classification, or data link and networking layer topics (i.e. ad hoc wireless networks).  Another possibility is to use CORNET to design and deploy some scenario-based experiments involving jammers and DSA radios of primary users and public safety radios.

Dr. Carl Dietrich will be working on the project “SDR Interfacing and Interoperability Investigations” with students Garrett Vanhoy (University of Arizona) and Christopher Evans (Virginia Tech). This project involves investigating the interoperability of the SCA/OSSIE and other open SDR and Cognitive Radio frameworks, implementation, benchmarking, and profiling of SDR/CR applications, and demonstration and documentation of new capabilities achieved.  The results of this project have the potential to result in open source software and/or conference papers.

In fact, research conducted during the first two years of Dr. Bose’s REU program has resulted in several presentations and one publication.  This includes five conference papers, two of which were presented at the ASEE’s annual conference in Vancouver held June 26-29, 2011, one demonstration at the Wireless Innovation Forum’s SDR ’10 conference, and one book chapter.  An abstract for a sixth conference paper has been accepted.

Activities - Cascades Hike

On June 10, eleven of the thirteen students in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program hiked up to the Cascades Recreation Area with REU mentors Dr. Bose and Dr. Thamvichai. Among the thirteen students in the program, there are five Virginia Tech students, five students from Puerto Rico, and three from different universities all over the country. After two weeks of lectures and meetings, the students got into some really intense research work with a hike up the mountain, climbing on the rock formations, and swimming in the lake at the base of the waterfall. Well, maybe it wasn’t intense research work, but it was a great time for the students to get to know each other better and to relax with the other students and faculty with whom they will be working in the next weeks of the program.


On Wednesday, August 3, the students in the “Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program: Cognitive Communications” at Virginia Tech gave their final presentations of the projects they have been working on for the past 10 weeks. Each group also wrote a conference-style paper on their projects.

The following were the projects presented:

“Modularizing the Cognitive Radio”

Group Members: Garrett Vanhoy and Christopher Evans
Mentor: Dr. Carl Dietrich

“Cognitive Engine Reaction Time Analysis”

Group Members: Angel Martinez and William Clark
Mentor: Ashwin Amanna

“Cognitive Jammer”

Group Members: Shiwei Mao, Mohit Iyyer, and Thomas Voigt
Mentors: Dr. Tamal Bose and Barathram Ramkumar

“Anti-jamming on CORNET”

Group Members: Rafael Negron-Maldonado and Carlos Lopez
Mentors: Dr. Kay Thamvichai and Dan Depoy

“Flexible Internetwork Stack (FINS)”

Group Members: Kevin Burns and Mark Hutcheson
Mentor: Dr. Allen MacKenzie

“Cube Satellite Ground Station: A SDR Solution”

Group Members: Oscar Colon Valle, Edwin Cordova, Noel Torres, and Zachary Leffke
Mentors: Dr. Carl Dietrich and Randall Nealy

After the presentations, each student was given a certificate for their participation in the REU program and all were commended for the excellent research they had done throughout the summer.

Activities - Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger HuntOn June 17th, our students in the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program set out on a scavenger hunt around the town of Blacksburg. They were given a list of forty-five tasks and were instructed to complete as many as they could, which involved traveling all around town. The tasks included things such as visiting various stores and restaurants in town and answering questions about them, getting photos or signatures from particular people, and answering questions about various other locations such as the number of basketball courts at Nellie’s Cave Park and the number of windows on the front façade of the president’s house.

Hokie birdThe students were divided up into three teams. Chris Evans (Virginia Tech), Garrett Vanhoy (University of Arizona), and Carlos Lopez (Caribbean University, Puerto Rico) made up team “Wildcats.” Noel Torres (Polytechnic University, Puerto Rico) and Zachary Leffke (Virginia Tech) were team “SatCom.” Kevin Burns (Virginia Tech), Angel Martinez (University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez), and Bill Clark (Virginia Tech) made up team “Fire.” The teams were then awarded for most tasks completed, furthest distance traveled, most pictures taken, first back to the meeting room, and funniest story. Team Fire was the last to return to the meeting room, but they had completed 29 tasks, which won them a prize. They had also had traveled the farthest. They were close to also winning the prize for most pictures taken, until Team SatCom counted up the pictures taken on their cell phones in addition to those taken on the disposable cameras that each team had been given, and came out far ahead. Team SatCom had also reached the meeting room first, narrowly beating the Wildcats. However, the Wildcats were not left out, winning the prize for funniest story. Regardless of who won what prizes, all three teams looked back on the day with satisfaction. Each group spoke of how well their members worked together, how much fun they had, and how the scavenger hunt had helped them to better know the town of Blacksburg.

Group Photo, 2011