Students Discover GPS Possibilities in Presenting Seminars

2014-01-07

AE Assistant Prof. Grace Gao
AE Assistant Prof. Grace Gao
Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Assistant Prof. Grace Gao gave her students a unique opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they learned in her Global Positioning System class when they gave their final presentations in an all-day seminar at the end of the fall semester.

“The presentations turned out quite nicely, as nearly everyone chose topics that hadn’t been fully explored during normal class time,” AE student Eliot Wycoff said. “Unlike some seminars during which the speakers assumed too much prior knowledge from the audience, these presentations – because they were made by our classmates – were easy to understand and yet didn’t suffer from a lack of novelty or new information.”

Wycoff won second place for his presentation, “A Multi-User Python Software Receiver.” Seventeen students presented topics that show GPS impact on areas from orbital dynamics to signal processing to control theory. The seminar’s audience awarded three best presentation awards. First and third places were awarded to Electrical and Computer Engineering students Simran Singh and Yuting Ng, with their topics, “Identifying and Mitigating the Effects of Multipath on GPS Navigation Solution,” and “TEC Measurements using GPS Signals,” respectively.

Graphic from AE student Eliot Wycoff's presentation
Graphic from AE student Eliot Wycoff's presentation

The class, ECE/AE 456, examines engineering aspects of satellite navigation systems, such as GPS. Included are engineering and physical principles on which GPS operates, including orbital dynamics, electromagnetic wave propagation in a plasma, signal encoding, receiver design, error analysis, and numerical methods for obtaining a navigation solution. Students consider GPS as a case study for performing an end-to-end analysis of a complex engineering system. Laboratory exercises focus on understanding receiver design and developing a MATLAB-based GPS receiver.

“GPS is broadly used in our daily life; learning from this course gave me insights into navigation and GPS systems, and both of them are novel for me,” said AE student Xinke Deng, who gave the presentation, “Revised Navigation Solution With Known Altitude.”

“The final project was a fantastic experience,” Deng said. “I tried to revise conventional navigation algorithm and finally proved the improvement of precision and robustness of the new algorithm.”

Graphic from ECE student Gloria Lee's and AE student Julie Liu's presentation
Graphic from ECE student Gloria Lee's and AE student Julie Liu's presentation

“Since GNSS itself is a growing field – Europe and China are developing their own systems, and the U.S. and Russia are upgrading each of theirs – this class is relevant in that respect,” Wycoff said. “Yet it might also be useful for general students of AE and ECE who simply want to see how theory and ideas from both sets of knowledge come together in the practical implementation of a rather successful system that is used by billions of devices worldwide."

Other AE students who gave presentations as part of the class were Wu Xiong, “Obtaining a Navigation Solution Given User’s Altitude;” Stan Chan Dan Yang, “CubeSat Attitude Determination with GPS;” Ashley Sng, “Improving Navigation Solutions with the Kalman Filter;” and Julie Liu (with ECE student Gloria Lee), “Multipath Mitigation Using Sidereal Filtering.”