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Press Release 12-143
NSF Research Alliances Begin New Efforts to Accelerate Innovation

Eight teams around the country establish collaborations that strengthen the innovation ecosystem.

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Photo of CASA ERC students deploying an off-the-grid, wireless radar system in Puerto Rico.

The Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensitive of the Atmosphere (CASA) is an NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at UMass-Amherst. The Center is developing networks of small, versatile radars that can "see" atmospheric phenomena such as tornadoes that occur in the lower regions of the atmosphere, below where current state-of-the-art Doppler radars can reliably detect. The aim is to detect such events sooner and in more detail. That capability is already being proven in the field by experimentally deployed networks of the radars.

For example, in July 2010, CASA graduate and undergraduate students designed, assembled, and installed an "off-the-grid," solar-powered and wireless radar system in a region of western Puerto Rico that the Doppler radar located south of San Juan cannot sense. This radar network testbed successfully imaged two damaging windstorms and transmitted data to the National Weather Service office in San Juan, allowing earlier warnings to be issued.

With its Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) grant, the CASA ERC will strengthen its ability to transition new technologies that improve the nation's ability to respond to severe weather.

Credit: Sandra Cruz-Pol, UPRM-CASA

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Photo of a millimeter-wave signal propagation system.

The Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technologies (WICAT), a multi-institution NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, investigates new and better ways to meet the demands on wireless networks.

One research focus is new millimeter-wave technologies, which may overcome the bandwidth shortage currently facing wireless service providers. Successful development of millimeter-wave systems, however, requires accurate knowledge of how millimeter-wave signals propagate and are affected by their environment. WICAT researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are developing fundamental millimeter-wave propagation models that should lead to wider propagation of wireless signals in outdoor environments. The understandings gained will improve millimeter-wave mobile broadband communication technologies and systems.

With their Accelerating Innovation Research award, WICAT researchers will speed the commercialization of breakthrough technologies like millimeter-wave cellular systems that will multiply the amount of spectrum bandwidth available for communications.

Credit: University of Texas at Austin - WICAT

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