2014 REU

Student Biographies

Boubacar Abdou Tchoussou

Boubacar TchoussouBoubacar Tchoussou is originally from Niger, a country located in the western part of Africa. He speaks five different languages –French, English and three other African languages. Boubacar is a senior double-majoring in Applied Mathematics and Electrical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University at Greensboro, NC. He earned his first degree, in Electronics, from “Universite des Sciences et de la Technology d’Oran” in Algeria in 2006. Last summer, he participated to another REU program at the University of Maryland, College Park. At North Carolina A&T State University, he has been an undergraduate research assistant for three semesters and has been tutoring math, physics and French for about three years. His future plan is to attend graduate school in communication systems and signal processing. He is participating to the REU in cognitive communications at Virginia Tech to gain more skills and experience to move further toward his goals.


Ethel Baber

Ethel BaberEthel Baber is a transfer student at Virginia Tech. She graduated from Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, Va. She is majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Green Engineering. When she graduates she would like to work with renewable energy sources. Her goal for the REU program is to gain research experience on which she plans to use to help her decide if she would like to attend graduate school.




Frank "Lykes" Claytor

Lykes ClaytorMy name is Lykes Claytor and I am a Computer Science major and sophomore at Wofford College. I’m considering majoring in math as well but I haven’t declared it yet. I am 20 years old and am from Columbia, SC. I am very interested in learning how cognitive radios work and how they can be improved. I enjoy spending time with friends, writing, video games, and camping. My goal for the REU is to gain more knowledge and experience so I can decide what I want to do after college.




Elizabeth Cole

Elizabeth ColeElizabeth Cole is a rising sophomore attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is an honors student within the Commonwealth Honors College. She is pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering and minors in Math and Music. She highly enjoys music and plays the piano and the flute in the UMass Wind Ensemble. At school, she works as an office administrative assistant within the Chemical Engineering department. Elizabeth is attending this REU to focus her research interests, further her research experience, and expand her engineering knowledge in preparation for success in graduate school and her career.




Danielle Ho

Danielle HoDanielle Ho is a rising sophomore at Virginia Tech currently pursuing a major in biology with a focus in microbiology. Danielle plans to go to dental school with hopes to become an oral surgeon in the future. Throughout the school year, Danielle is involved in Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru), Pre-Dental club, and biological science research in the Virginia Tech Immunology lab with Dr. Liwu Li and Dr. Shuo Geng. She was named AP scholar two years in a row in high school, was on the honor roll all four years at Blacksburg High School, and was listed on the Dean’s list her freshman year at Virginia Tech. Outside of school Danielle enjoys swimming, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with friends. Danielle is thrilled to be participating in NSF Cognitive Communications Research Experiences for Undergraduates to experience a different facet of research and to work with top notch researchers in the field to gain cross-disciplinary experience. “I (Danielle) sought out this program because I wanted a rigorous program with a strong curriculum that would challenge me and develop me into a better student and researcher.” She hopes to gain invaluable hands-on experience and gain more knowledge in wireless communications and the intricate workings of the technology we, as a society, use on a daily basis.

Ian Ho

Ian HoIan is a freshman majoring in Engineering at New River Community College, in Dublin, VA. He is hoping to work in telecommunications. Ian is currently on the Dean's List, and is a competitive swimmer. He is a USA Sectional Qualifier in Swimming, and Eastern Zone Qualifier in Swimming, and is also an accomplished violinist who has performed with the Journey of the Strings at the Kennedy Center. Ian also placed 2nd at the Renaissance Music Academy Concert Compeition in 2010. Ian also volunteers his time in his community, volunteering for the summer reading program at the local library, organizing Thanksgiving baskets through the local high schools, performs for local non-profits, and participating in mission trips to South Africa. Ian also was the Vice President of the local STAND (Students Take Action Now Darfur) in this senior year at Blacksburg High School.



Akshay Iyer

Akshay IyerAkshay is majoring in Electrical Engineering at North Carolina State University with a minor in Physics. Akshay's primary academic interests include wireless/wireline communications, RF circuit design/electromagnetics, and digital signal processing. By participating in the REU, he is looking to gain experience with current instrumentation and methodologies in the communications industry as well as perform research investigating issues in communications technology.




Edward Powell

Edward PowellAbout me - I am from Fort, Worth Texas and going to school at Texas A&M University of Commerce with a major in Computer Science, minor in Math and Criminal Justice. I’m on a scholarship there and one of its requirements is that I write an intense undergraduate thesis. I’m hoping this summer I can gain some research experience and possibly stir ideas for it. Cybertechnology is a growing interest of mine; I’m a sponge for knowledge and love learning from others and vice versa. Overall, I look forward to the personal growth that I’ll experience this summer at the 2014 REU program.



Thomas "George" Vormittag

Thomas George VormittagMy name is T. George Vormittag. I grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Kayenta, Arizona. I currently attend school at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff Arizona. My major is electrical engineering with a computer emphasis. My interested area of study is in telecommunications. In my four years at NAU I have taken courses in Error Correcting Codes, Random Signals and Systems, Digital System Design, Compression, Estimation, and Cryptography. I have had the privilege to do research in error correcting codes with Sheryl Howard. My research required me to design a channel estimator to establish a running average of the estimated noise within a channel using the (7, 4) Hamming Code. I have also made the Dean’s list consecutively from fall semester of 2012 to fall semester of 2013.


Logan Woodcock

Logan WoodcockLogan Woodcock is from Chesapeake, Virginia, which is in the southeastern part of Virginia. He is a rising sophomore at Virginia Tech and is currently in the General Engineering program but switching into the Electrical Engineering program. He is more interested in the hardware aspects of electrical engineering rather than the software and programming aspects. Along with electrical engineering, he intends to minor in biomedical engineering and pursue a career involving both biomedical and electrical. In high school he played soccer and participated in district, regional, and state tournaments for his high school. When not busy with school work, he enjoys hanging out with friends and watching sports. In this program, he hopes to gain experience in engineering that he may implement into both the electrical and biomedical fields.



Projects and Presenatations

Boubacar Tchoussou and Frank Lykes Claytor

Title: Investigation of Dynamic Spectrum Access Approaches in Broadcasting

Boubacar and LykesAbstract: Cognitive Radio (CR) is a novel radio technology that is intelligent enough to autonomously change its parameters’ configuration to adapt to its environment. One of the main goals of Cognitive Radio is to increase the efficient usage of the radio spectrum which is believed to be underutilized. Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) is one of the proposed techniques to achieve this goal. DSA is a technique in which the secondary user (unlicensed user) accesses and uses the spectrum when the primary user (licensed user) is not using it. In order to avoid interference or collision with the primary user, it is extremely important that the secondary user (SU) vacates the spectrum as soon as the primary user (PU) is present. The purpose of this project is to investigate the DSA approaches using broadcasting. One secondary transmitter and many secondary receivers will collaborate to sense and access the idle frequencies. The main focus of the project will be on evaluating the performance of the CRs when performing DSA in broadcasting. This goal will be achieved using C++, Liquid-DSP, and Cognitive Radio Test System (CRTS).

Mentor: Carl Dietrich

Poster: Investigation of Dynamic Spectrum Access Approaches in Broadcasting

Presentation: Investigation of Dynamic Spectrum Access Approaches in Broadcasting

Ethel Baber, Danielle Ho, and Thomas George Vormittag

Title: Outdoor Transmitter Localization

Ethel, Danielle, and GeorgeAbstract: Nowadays, there are many techniques to localize a transmitter in an outdoor setting – the most popular being the Global Positioning System (GPS). The problem with localization, determining the position of a given node, is a complex one due to obstructions (i.e., buildings, trees...) which interfere with signal transmission. To accurately determine the position of a transmitter, many parameters must be known. This paper will aim to discuss the current parameters used to localize a transmitter as well as evaluate a more elegant, and cost effective method to localize a transmitter in an outdoor setting. Transmitter localization in an outdoor environment can be useful in case of emergencies, when the individual does not have a GPS on them, or to detect the position of malicious attacks on a system. O-CORNET, a cognitive radio network test bed designed at Virginia Tech, will be used to localize a transition signal emitted by a USRP. O-CORNET will make use of Signal Strength Difference on Arrival to locate the transmitter.

Mentor: Dr. Louis Beex

Poster: Outdoor Transmitter Localization

Presentation: Outdoor Transmitter Localization (power point)

Paper: Outdoor Transmitter Localization Tutorial(pdf)

Power Point Presentation: O-CORNET Tutorial

Elizabeth Cole, Ian Ho, and Edward Powell

Title: Examination and Analysis of Dynamic Spectrum Access

Elizabeth, Ian and EddieAbstract: There is only a certain range of usable frequencies within the radio spectrum that can be used for wireless communications. This is why the radio spectrum has quickly become regarded as a limited natural resource. In order to help regulate the use of the radio spectrum in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocates and licenses different parts of the spectrum to certain industries and businesses that attempt to benefit the general public. Despite how limited the usable frequency band is, approximately only 15-20% of the licensed spectrum is being utilized at a given time. Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Cognitive Radio are two related growing technologies that are trying to address this major problem. These two techniques, with more experimentation and success, can help shape the future of dynamic spectrum management. This project utilizes both of these technologies to simulate a situation consisting of a primary user that transmits data on a channel in random bursts. A secondary user will also be transmitting in bursts on the same channel when the primary user is not transmitting, maximizing the use of the channel. The success of this will be measured in the minimization of the bit error rate of the primary user. For this project, GNU Radio and Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) platforms will be fundamental tools for modeling the success of dynamic spectrum access.

Mentor: Dr. Louis Beex

Poster: Examination and Analysis of Dynamic Spectrum Access

Presentation: Spectrum Access ModelDynamic

Paper: Examiniation and Analysis of Dynamic Spectrum Access


Akshay Iyer and Logan Woodcock

Title:  RF Power Amplifier Design for High Frequency Systems

Akshay and LoganAbstract: In radio frequency wireless communications systems, it is necessary to amplify an input (TX) signal prior to antenna. In this project, a high efficiency harmonic tuned (class F), RF power amplifier will be designed and tested that is capable of working reliably between 10 and 18 GHz for this purpose. CMOS transistor technology will be used in the overall design of this project. Advanced Design System (ADS) software will be used to create the circuit schematics and conduct operational and EM simulations. Power Efficiency (PE), Power Added Efficiency (PAE), and small signal S-Parameters will be measured for the physical hardware device(s).

Mentor: Dr. Kwang - Jin Koh and Yahya Mortazavi

Poster: Design of 3.67 GHz RF Power Amplifier

Presentation: Design of 3.67 GHz RF Power Amplifier (power point)

Mentor Biographies

Dr. Kwang-Jin Koh, 

Boubacar TchoussouDr. Kwang-Jin Koh has been an assistant professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech since Nov. 2011. Dr. Koh received a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of California, San Diego, in 2008. Before joining Virginia Tech, he held industrial positions of a senior and senior staff engineer at Intel and Broadcom Corp. and developed RF and analog integrated circuits for Intel microprocessors, wireless radio systems on a chip (SoC), and TV tuner systems.

Dr. Koh received the best paper award from IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society and Electron Device Society, Seoul Chapter, in 2002. His Ph.D work on integrated phased-arrays on silicon technologies has been reported to the Pentagon in a DARPA War Report as one of the major accomplishments in 2007. He also received the Best Team of the Year Award from Teledyne Scientific Corp. (formerly Rockwell Scientific Corp.) in 2010. His major research interests include integrated radio and radar systems in silicon technologies for wireless communications, wireless sensing and detection, and imaging applications at RF, microwave, millimeter and sub-millimeter wave regimes.



Dr. Louis Beex

Ethel BaberA. A. (Louis) Beex is a naturalized US citizen, born in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. He received the “Ingenieur” degree from Technical University Eindhoven, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in 1974, and the Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO, in 1979; both in Electrical Engineering.

His research interests lie in stochastic, digital, and adaptive signal processing, as in, for example: Doppler and multipath mitigation for acoustic communication channels; analysis and exploitation of nonlinear effects in adaptive signal processing; multipath modeling and mitigation; robust interference mitigation; adaptive sensor array processing, for direction finding in reverberant environments; (spectral) analysis, (adaptive) modeling, and coding of signals (EEG, speech, communications) for detection of specific characteristics.

From 1976 to 1978 he was at Starkey Labs. Inc., Minneapolis MN, as a Staff Research Engineer, working on applications of digital signal processing for the design of advanced hearing instruments, and for their automated evaluation. Since 1979 he has been on the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg VA, currently as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Digital Signal Processing Research Laboratory (DSPRL). During August 1988 he was a Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering at Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, P.R. China, during November 1999 he was a Visiting Scholar (QUE program) at Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, Indonesia, and during January 2003 he was a Visiting Professor at Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Sriperumbudur, India. During Fall 2001 he was a National Research Council Senior Research Associate at SSC, San Diego, CA, working on non-linear and time-varying aspects of adaptive filtering.

He has taught short courses in Digital Signal Processing Theory & Applications at Engineering Research Associates and the Central Intelligence Agency, in the Washington DC area. He was a Consultant to American Electric Power, on DSP-oriented power measurements of under-sampled signals containing harmonics, to Shenandoah Electronic Intelligence Inc., on adaptive channel equalization, to Digital System Resources, on DSP related review, to TTC-TPI, on AGC analysis, to Control Dynamics Inc, on analysis of nonlinear dynamic behavior of filter weights for control of nonlinear antenna arrays, to Prime Photonics LC, on signal analysis and decomposition, and to Adaptive Dynamics Inc, on multipath mitigation for satellite communications.

Professor Beex is a Senior Member of IEEE, and Past Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing. He serves as a reviewer for the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing; Circuits and Systems; Aerospace and Electronic Systems; Automatic Control and IEE Proceedings on Radar, Sonar and Navigation and the European Journal Signal Processing, among others.

Dr. Carl Dietrich, REU Site Director, Principal Investigator and Mentor

Lykes ClaytorDr. Dietrich is an Associate Research Professor at Virginia Tech and is the Principal Investigator (PI) for the REU program this year. Since 2005 he has led the OSSIE open source software defined radio (SDR) project, which resulted in over 20,000 downloads and is a major enabling technology for the new REDHAWK open source SDR software. He has taught undergraduate courses in communications systems, electromagnetics, and electronics, as well as Virginia Tech's graduate course in software radio and numerous short courses, serves as chair of the Wireless Innovation Forum’s Educational Special Interest Group, and is an IEEE Senior Member and a licensed professional engineer in Virginia. In addition to advising graduate students, Dr. Dietrich has worked with over 20 undergraduate student researchers since 2006. Undergraduate researchers who worked with Dr. Dietrich have authored or coauthored several papers, presentations, demonstrations, and posters presented at on-campus, regional, and national conferences, developed or contributed to open source software, and updated laboratory exercises that are available for public download and used in graduate courses at Virginia Tech and the Naval Postgraduate School.


Group Photo 1:


Group Photo 2:

Group photo at the symposium

Left to right, front row: Boubacar Tchoussou, Eddie Powerll, Elizabeth Cole, Danielle Ho

Middle row: Ikshay Iyer, and Logan Woodcock

Back row: Ian Ho, Thomas "George" Vormitagg, Lykes Claytor and Ethel Baber