Bill Melvin Tapped to Lead GTRI Laboratory

Radar engineer will head Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Lab

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has named William Melvin as director of its Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory (SEAL). He replaces Robert N. Trebits, who retired in May after a distinguished 35-year career with GTRI, including 15 years as director of SEAL.

An expert in signal processing and aerospace radar systems, Melvin has been with GTRI for eight years, most recently as director of SEAL's Adaptive Sensor Technology Project Office.

Melvin's research has led to three U.S. patents on adaptive radar technology, and he has authored more than 120 technical articles appearing in journals, conference proceedings and government reports. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Lehigh University and is an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). This spring Melvin was named the "Young Radar Engineer of the Year" by the IEEE Radar Systems Panel of the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society.

"Bill Melvin will be an outstanding laboratory director," said Stephen E. Cross, GTRI's director and a vice president of Georgia Tech. "In addition to a keen intellect, he possesses the kind of leadership qualities that Jim Collins cites in 'Good to Great,' such as personal humility coupled with tremendous drive and commitment to the organization. Bill is a hard worker and is well respected by his colleagues at GTRI and Georgia Tech as well as in our stakeholder communities."

At SEAL, researchers focus on developing radio frequency (RF) sensors, which includes radar, electromagnetic environmental effects and antenna technology. "Our mission is to contribute to the country's defense, security and well-being by solving complex sensor problems," Melvin explained.

"These are exciting times for radar, as a lot has changed in the past 15 years," Melvin continued. "It used to be that radar systems directed energy into the skies in their search for Soviet aircraft. Today we're pointing radar systems toward the Earth to provide defense and intelligence communities with information on all types of ground threats."

That presents a challenge to make radar systems more effective. For one thing, today's radar systems must operate in environments with increasingly complex interference, contending with site-specific clutter and man-made objects. What's more, spectrum has diminished due to the growing number of wireless devices, such as cell phones and wireless LANs.

Another emphasis at SEAL is signal processing techniques, which use complex algorithms to process data from RF receive elements. "We're trying to make radar bang up against the laws of physics," Melvin said, referring to radar systems that can look through walls and map the interiors of buildings. "To do that, we need to extract as much information as possible out of the data that a system receives."

Key units at SEAL include:

- Radar Systems Division, which develops air-to-ground and space-to-ground sensors. Important areas include electronic protection (anti-jamming), adaptive sensor technology and life-cycle management (helping the government maintain radar systems by identifying shortcomings and developing new parts or upgrades).

- Air and Missile Defense Division, which develops sensors for ballistic missile defense. Among areas of expertise are antenna engineering, tracking and sensor fusion.

- Electromagnetic and Antennas Division, which investigates both new and existing threat systems for the intelligence community and explores electromagnetic effects and antenna design and measurement techniques.

- Tactical Weapons and Sensors Project Office, which develops sensors for tactical weapons systems that support military troops on the ground. Launched in 2004, the TWSPO office is a highly specialized area that Melvin hopes to grow.

Although the defense community benefits greatly from SEAL's work, the lab is also pursuing related radar technologies for applications in air traffic control, vehicle safety, site intrusion detection and healthcare. In highway safety, for example, radar systems could be used to keep cars at safe distances.

"Radar is a highly multidisciplinary field, and SEAL has a great team of subject matter experts," Melvin said. "By pooling their talent, we can develop highly innovative, end-to-end solutions that best meet our customers' requirements."

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contacts: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (jtoon@gatech.edu) or Kirk Englehardt (404-407-7280); E-mail: (kirk.englehardt@gtri.gatech.edu).

Technical Contact: William Melvin (770-528-3274); E-mail: (bill.melvin@gtri.gatech.edu).

Writer: T.J. Becker