Radar Signal Processing Research Gets a Boost

Dr. Fauzia Ahmad receives rank of Fellow from SPIE

Associate Professor in Electrical and Computing Engineering Dr. Fauzia Ahmad recently received the rank of “Fellow” from SPIE, the international society of optics and photonics. She is one of 71 fellows elected recently among the international membership.

The military often uses radar signal processing, where much of her research work is focused. She recently received a contract from the Air Force Research Lab to create signal processing algorithms for passive radar ─ a new way to locate targets without disclosing your position to enemy forces. “Use of an active transmitter emitting high powered signal makes it easier for your adversaries to figure out exactly where your radar is located,” she said. “Passive radar is an emerging technology that provides a covert operation capability. Research interest is growing because there are so many other signals out there in the environment already, at radio frequencies at which the radar operates. So instead of sending out a signal from the radar itself, these signals of opportunity reflect off all the targets we’re interested in to achieve goals like tracking a ground-based vehicle as it moves through the terrain.” Her work will focus on using GPS signals for passive radar operation.

Dr. Ahmad is in her first year at Temple and brings more depth in this field to Temple’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. However, she is no stranger to the radar and signal processing community in Philadelphia. She came to the area with her husband after earning her bachelor’s and master’s in her native Pakistan. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1997 and has spent the past 14 years researching and teaching at Villanova University. She lives in the area with her husband, who is also an electrical engineer, and her two sons.

At Temple, Dr. Ahmad looks forward to working with microwaves and millimeter waves. “Millimeter waves are becoming much more prevalent now,” she says. “Fifth-generation wireless technology is focusing on this band of frequencies. Automotive radar is another application, especially with growing interest in driverless vehicles – researchers are very interested in using radar in conjunction with other technologies for autonomous cars. Millimeter waves are much higher frequencies compared to typical radar frequencies, but they work well at smaller ranges and the device itself is much smaller.”

Beyond military applications, Ahmad has other interests in expanding radar’s utility for consumer use, especially among the elderly. “As people grow older, they don’t want to go into nursing homes. Instead, they prefer to stay in their own residence and live in a self-dependent manner. Falls are the major cause of injuries among people 65+. We’ve been using radar for fall detection, which can get fall victims help faster.” Dr. Ahmad was a key member of the research team working in this area while at Villanova along with Dr. Yimin Zhang, who is now her colleague again in the Temple ECE department. She believes Temple’s medical school and college of public health can help advance their work in elderly fall detection.

Although her primary focus at Villanova was research, she taught in the ECE department there as an adjunct professor. At Temple, Dr. Ahmad is an associate professor and taught Digital Signal Processing to undergrad and graduate students this past fall. This semester, she’s teaching the undergraduate course on Stochastic Processes in Signals and Systems. Her cutting edge lab on the first floor of the Engineering building, expected to be completed this semester, will be looking to include students in performing radar research that she hopes will make its mark and get industry recognition.