Zouheir Rezki Earns NSF CAREER Award
March 05, 2020
MOSCOW, Idaho — March 5, 2020 — University of Idaho College of Engineering Assistant Professor Zouheir Rezki has earned the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Award.
The program recognizes new teachers and scholars for outstanding commitments to their organization’s mission, builds early career development and encourages continued contribution to research and education. An individual can only submit a proposal three times in their lifetime, and more than 7,000 awards have been distributed over 15 years of the program.
Also known as the CAREER Award, the five-year NSF grant will provide $500,000 toward Rezki’s research in “Advancing Space Optical Communication Systems Via Hybrid Model-Based and Learning-Based Frameworks” in the U of I Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Traditional radio-frequency communication is congested and bandwidth is severely limited, making it difficult to use for communication to and from space. Research into space optical communication (SOC) began in the ’70s, but current models are cost-prohibitive.
“Radio frequency is used by everybody, it’s congested,” Rezki said. “SOC offers a huge amount of bandwidth for communication at a high data rate. It’s developing this idea of serving communication at a low cost.”
Rezki’s research will focus on developing a model to better understand and predict SOC impairment caused by changes in the Earth’s atmosphere and develop a system that adapts as changes occur. This adaptive nature is expected to maximize performance and cut costs.
As research into SOC develops, so does its application into both deep- and near-space communication. Rezki said SOC could eventually be used to bring internet and broadband to areas of the world that might not otherwise have access or be used in airspace communication to make commercial flights safer.
“Internet could be the platform to spread education to underserved areas of the world,” Rezki said. “It has application in many areas of daily life in our society.”
A significant part of the NSF grant will be used in conjunction with the U of I College of Education, Health and Human Sciences to convert an existing lab in the U of I Gauss-Johnson Engineering Laboratory into an educational space catered to K-12 students for workshop and hands-on learning opportunities centered around SOC research and grant initiatives. A portion of the grant will also be used to fund travel and other costs for current U of I engineering student ambassador outreach to prospective students.
This project was funded under the NSF grant 1944828. The total funding from the grant is $404,095 of which 100% is the federal share.
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