Vaughan aims to improve cell phones

Nov 13, 2003, vol. 28, no. 6
By Diane Luckow

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As more Canadians hang up on land-based phone lines in favour of cellphones, there is a growing need to improve cellular coverage and increase the efficiency of radio spectrum usage, which is a finite and shared resource.

Rodney Vaughan (left), a professor of electrical engineering in the school of engineering science and SFU's new Sierra Wireless chair in wireless communications, says future cellphones and other wireless terminals will all boast several antennas for improved signalling and clarity.

He plans an ambitious research project that will examine how to use multiple antenna systems to improve radio spectrum efficiency and limit interference with other radio spectrum users.

Vaughan's new research position is supported with a $180,000, three-year commitment from Sierra Wireless Inc. and a $250,000, four-year commitment from the Advanced Systems Institute of B.C. (ASI). This will enable Vaughan to set up a research lab with graduate students who will assist in the research.

“This is a great example of successful local organizations giving back to the community in which they operate,” says Cathy Daminato, SFU's VP-advancement. “Sierra Wireless' and ASI's commitment to SFU has enabled us to expand our world class research team in wireless communications.”

Vaughan, a renowned research engineer in mobile telecommunications, most recently worked for Industrial Research Ltd. in New Zealand. He accepted the Sierra Wireless chair at SFU, he says, for several reasons, including the opportunity to share his knowledge and interact with the inquiring minds of engineering students.

His early career included designing microcomputers and digital signal processing equipment for industrial applications. He later pursued theoretical work in mobile communications, in particular related to signal processing, radio waves and antennas.

Vaughan expects his research at SFU will lead to “enhanced product opportunities for both existing high-tech companies and new entrepreneurs and, in turn, better products and processes for the public.”

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