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Ohio University alumnus receives national award for aviation navigation tech enhancements

Anna Hartenbach | Jun 28, 2018
Naab-Levy

Ohio University alumnus receives national award for aviation navigation tech enhancements

Anna Hartenbach | Jun 28, 2018

A Russ College alumnus has recently won the 2018 William E. Jackson Award for the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA).

Adam Naab-Levy, BSEE ’12, MSEE ’15, a former graduate research assistant at the Ohio University Avionics Engineering Center, received the award for his thesis on enhanced Distance Measuring Equipment (e-DME) data broadcast design, analysis, implementation, and fight-test verification. For the award, he received a $4,000 cash honorarium and a commemorative plaque at the RTCA 2018 Global Aviation Symposium awards luncheon in Arlington, Virginia.

“This award means a lot to me because it shows that my work has the potential to improve aviation safety and efficiency. Many people said I went above and beyond what a M.S. entails, and it feels very gratifying for that effort to be acknowledged,” Naab-Levy said.

Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) modernization of their use of satellite-based GPS technology in the National Airspace System, which began in 2007 and remains on target for full implementation by 2025. NextGen aims to increase the safety, efficiency, capacity, predictability, and  resiliency of aviation.

Naab-Levy joined his thesis adviser and former Russ College faculty member Wouter Pelgrum, who nominated him for the award, and Kuangmin Li, PHD ’15, who won the 2015 William E. Jackson Award, in their ongoing effort to enhance DME performance to meet NextGen Requirements.

Since Naab-Levy couldn’t modify the DME system, as it’s an integral part of aviation ground infrastructure, he created models to replicate the DME system’s operation to determine what modifications could be made. Based on the data he obtained, he designed several systems, created environmental models using real-world data, wrote software to simulate and analyze the systems, and flight-tested the designs.

“The ability to flight-test my communication system validated my work, but also provided me with invaluable experience on how to process signals in the wild, which I extensively use to this day,” Naab-Levy said.

Now a software engineer at Blue Ridge Envisioneering, he develops algorithms and tools to improve signal processing systems, focusing on machine-learning-based signal detectors and tools that can be used to mitigate uncalibrated geolocation error sources.

“I feel fortunate to have had access to the Ohio University Avionics Engineering Center’s resources. It’s one of the few places in the country that has the knowledge and infrastructure required to field and flight-test a system,” he said.

In the 41-year history of the William E. Jackson Award, Naab-Levy is the sixteenth OHIO awardee. The award honors William E. Jackson for his contributions to air navigation and air traffic control, his dedication to helping young engineers star their careers, and his leadership.