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Brad Petersen
Director of
Communications
1066 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

Contact Info

Meg Dickinson
Communications Specialist
1068 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 300-6664
megd@illinois.edu

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Alumnus Bob Johnson: brigadier general, electrical engineer and polo player at 89

Alumnus Bob Johnson: brigadier general, electrical engineer and polo player at 89

Alumnus Bob Johnson (BSEE '38) served in the pacific theatre of the Second World War, reached the rank of brigadier general, worked as an electrical engineer, and played competitive polo until the age of 87.

Yan receives scholarship from Croucher Foundation

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By Susan Kantor, ECE ILLINOIS
July 27, 2009

  • ECE graduate student Jie-Bang (Stephen) Yan has received a Croucher Foundation Scholarship from Hong Kong.
  • Yan studies electromagnetics and focuses on antennas.
  • Yan’s research is increasingly relevant with the recent transition to digital television.

Jie Bang  Yan
Jie Bang Yan

ECE graduate student Jie-Bang (Stephen) Yan has received a Croucher Foundation Scholarship from Hong Kong. This prestigious scholarship’s purpose is to encourage students from Hong Kong to work toward their PhDs overseas. Yan will receive two years of tuition plus a monthly stipend.

“It’s hard to get a scholarship, but I figured I had a chance because I’m pretty good at my research,” Yan said. “This scholarship has a very strong emphasis on research.”

Yan began his research at the University in August 2008 when he was selected to be a part of ECE Professor Jennifer Bernhard’s group, which mainly researches antennas.

“He’s very energetic, very dedicated,” Bernhard said. “He takes the initiative on things. He does a really good job of formulating the whole problem and attacking it from multiple angles.  These skills came in handy for both the written materials he had to submit for the scholarship and also for the interview. He had to explain and lay out a plan of what he was going to do and put it in context in front of a very impressive review panel.”

Yan studies electromagnetics and focuses on antennas.

The FCC recently released the use of the white space spectrum, which is the space between regular television broadcast channels. The spectrum’s band is very wide and has the potential to improve high-speed wireless communication. But an antenna must be very large to function well at these frequencies.

In his research proposal for the scholarship, Yan described multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas for white space frequencies around 700 MHz.  Traditionally, there is one antenna in the transmitter and one in the receiver. When more antennas are added to the transmitter and receiver, the channel capacity improves. But the major difficulty is to suppress the unwanted coupling between multiple antennas. Yan hopes to develop antennas that are both highly efficient and physically small.

Yan hopes to apply this research to the new white space wireless system, which will work at the white space frequencies. The new wireless system will be similar to Wi-Fi currently used, but will be faster and accessed nationwide instead of in a restricted area.

With the recent transition to digital television, Yan’s research is increasingly relevant.  Yan also studies indoor reception of digital television signals. In research he presented in June at the IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation, he found that the type of reflective insulation, the type of indoor antenna used, and the position of windows in a house all have the potential to significantly affect the strength of a digital television signal inside a home.  These research results could soon be used to help consumers determine strategies for receiving the new digital television channels without having to resort to installing antennas on their roofs.

“I really can do something in these two years,” Yan said. “I’m looking forward to it. ”

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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