Shannon Blunt, Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, was recently elected as Chair of the Radar Systems Panel (RSP) of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the largest technical society in the world. The IEEE RSP is the premier professional entity involved with all things radar, including the promotion of advanced radar-related technologies, establishing and revising radar technical standards, providing fundamental and advanced continued education in radar topics, and overseeing the flagship conference in the field.
At any given time the RSP is comprised of roughly 40 people from government, industry and academia from around the world, with the current panel comprised of representatives from 11 countries having significant radar research programs.
“Radar research is experiencing a renaissance,” said Blunt, “and it is a very exciting time to be involved in this field that draws from so many fundamental disciplines within electrical engineering, as well as physics, computer science and mathematics. It is generally well known that radar played a pivotal role on both sides of World War II and has since matured into technologies that we routinely count on for air traffic control, weather monitoring, scientific exploration and national defense. However, the same advances in digital signal processing, technology miniaturization, high-speed computing, materials engineering and fabrication, and software-defined capabilities that turned clunky analog cellular phones into the amazing smart phones of today is likewise revolutionizing radar in profound ways,” said Blunt.
“Consider the Google Soli project that merges radar with machine learning to enable hand gesture detection as a means to control the world around us. Likewise, more and more automobiles are becoming equipped with multiple radars as the sensor of choice for collision avoidance, blind spot detection and perhaps ultimately even autonomous driving. Add to that the emerging problems involved with rapidly growing spectral congestion and the push for simultaneous spectrum sharing between the rather disparate services of radar, communications, and navigation and it quickly becomes clear that radar research is a very ‘target rich environment’ to borrow from defense nomenclature,” said Blunt.
KU has a long and diverse history with radar research, with the Radar Systems & Remote Sensing Lab (RSL) being founded in 1964. Professor Blunt has been the Director of KU RSL since 2011 and is also Director of the recently established Kansas Applied Research Lab (KARL). He has served as General Chair (2011) and Technical Co-Chair (2018) of the flagship IEEE Radar Conference, is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace & Electronic Systems and was Chair of the NATO SET-179 research task group on “Dynamic Waveform Diversity & Design” as well as participating in several other NATO research activities. He has co-edited two radar-related books: Principles of Waveform Diversity & Design published in 2010 and the recent Radar & Communication Spectrum Sharing along with Professor Erik Perrins of the KU EECS Department. He received an AFOSR Young Investigator Award in 2008, the IEEE Nathanson Memorial “Young Radar Engineer” award in 2012, and in 2016 became a Fellow of the IEEE for “contributions to radar waveform diversity and design.”