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E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships

Winner

Robert Schober

Electrical and Computer Engineering

The University of British Columbia


Profile

At any given time, on any given day, billions of people around the world are using wireless devices simultaneously, creating relentless pressure to increase the efficiency of wireless communications networks.

Robert Schober, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia, has made world-leading contributions to helping ensure that network capacity keeps up with the demand for services. His theoretical and applied research has helped set new standards for the wireless industry and has earned him a 2012 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship from NSERC.

Dr. Schober’s latest research efforts build on the growing trend towards designing co-operative wireless networks. This challenges traditional approaches to network design, which assume communication can take place only between specified points, or “nodes,” in the network. For example, signals travel from a mobile phone to a base station, and then to another mobile phone. Dr. Schober and his team hope to extend capacity by making it possible for all mobile phones in a network to function as transmission relays. If successful, this work would vastly increase the number of possible channels available to transmit information, and once again revolutionize the international wireless communications industry.

This is the latest innovation in a string of recent successes realized by Dr. Schober. For instance, in 2001, he helped develop and commercialize a single-antenna interference cancellation (SAIC) software process. Now found in millions of mobile phones around the world, SAIC significantly reduces the interference caused by signals from other channels on a network that affect voice quality and lead to dropped calls. It spurred a major overhaul of the entire Global System for Mobile Communications, the most widely used mobile communication system in the world.

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