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OHIO researcher and alum wins national award for improving aviation navigation tech

Pete Shooner | Jun 18, 2015
RTCA winner Kuangmin Li

OHIO researcher and alum wins national award for improving aviation navigation tech

Pete Shooner | Jun 18, 2015

A researcher at Ohio University’s Avionics Engineering Center and recent Ph.D. graduate has recently won the 2015 William E. Jackson Award from the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA), marking the fifteenth win from OHIO in the 40-year history of the award.

Kuangmin Li, PHD ’15, a post-doctoral research associate at the Center, received the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., for his recently defended dissertation on enhanced Distance Measuring Equipment (eDME) carrier phase, an enabling technology that can improve eDME performance as a GPS alternative for aviation.

“What a terrific area he’s doing his research in, that’s so pertinent to so much of what we’re doing to find backup for GPS,” RTCA President Margret Jenny said. “I was very impressed with his work – he should be very proud.”

Satellite-based GPS technology is a cornerstone of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), the FAA’s new National Airspace System being implemented through 2025. However, the technology is vulnerable to interference from solar activity as well as “spoofing” and “jamming.”

Li’s research focused on improving the legacy ground-based DME system used extensively worldwide for decades, so that it can meet FAA NextGen standards and serve as a GPS backup when the technology is compromised or unavailable.

“This award does not just reflect my personal work, but also work from all the faculty and staff members from Avionics Engineering Center,” Li said. “I’m just lucky to be selected as the Jackson Award recipient, as many others in the Center are also deserving.”

Li was nominated for the award by Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Wouter Pelgrum, who also served as Li’s dissertation advisor. Pelgrum said Li’s ability to keep an “eye on the big picture” is what sets him apart.

“Not only did he research the concept of DME carrier phase in great detail, he has also been instrumental in implementing and flight testing this technology,” Pelgrum explained. “His accomplishments and contributions are at the core of what makes the Russ College a leader in aviation navigation.”

With the award, Li received a $4,000 cash honorarium and a permanent place in the Avionics Engineering Center’s legacy of groundbreaking research.

“A ‘glory wall’ of previous Jackson Award winners in the Center has always inspired me to work hard, and I always admired their great work,” Li said. “I’m proud that I can be among one of them.”