NYU WIRELESS Doctoral Student Wins Marconi Young Scholars Award

George MacCartney, doctoral student

The Marconi Society has awarded George MacCartney, Jr., an electrical engineering doctoral student at NYU Tandon and a researcher at NYU WIRELESS, a 2016 Paul Baran Young Scholars Award for his work on millimeter-wave radio propagation. He is the first researcher from NYU to win the prestigious prize.

The Marconi Society said it chose MacCartney on the strength of his scholarship and the role he has played in the advance of millimeter-wave (mmWave) wireless knowledge for mobile communication systems at NYU WIRELESS, which is at the forefront of fifth-generation (5G) research.

“George MacCartney is a remarkable young man with a very bright future, and his accomplishments, impact, and influence on the future of the wireless communications field while serving as a graduate student are remarkable,” said Professor Theodore (Ted) Rappaport, the NYU Tandon David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical Engineering and founding director of NYU WIRELESS. Rappaport, MacCartney’s academic advisor, nominated him for the award.

Sundeep Rangan, the director of NYU WIRELESS, explained that MacCartney is a driving force at the research center. “He single-handedly designed and developed equipment for measuring mmWave radio propagation, led the measurement campaigns, and performed most of the data analysis,” Rangan said. “Indeed, in the few years he has been here, he has already published more papers with more impact than most faculty will do in their careers.”

Before coming to Tandon for his graduate studies, MacCartney worked for two years at Lockheed Martin, where he specialized in spectrum surveillance and awareness. Since 2013 he has been co-author of more than 20 journal and conference papers, some of which are considered seminal work in the global movement toward 5G.

A paper MacCartney co-authored in the June 2014 issue of the IEEE Journal demonstrated that frequency bands in the range of 73 GHz, belonging to one of the largest areas of unlicensed spectrum real estate, could be used in dense urban spaces to deliver multi-gigabit per second data rates, 100 times greater than have ever been achieved.

His paper in the October 2015 issue of IEEE Access advanced scholarship in multipath channels — by which radio signals reach the receiving antenna by more than one path — for future indoor access points that will use the new 5G frequency bands.

This summer MacCartney and his team of fellow students helped Rappaport prove that mmWave  frequencies, more likely to be attenuated by atmospheric conditions and obstacles, can work in rural settings where transmitters and receivers can be miles apart. The students travelled the back roads of Virginia, using Rappaport’s mountain home as the base station. They performed receiver measurements from more than 30 locations in valleys, fields, and hilltops to show the viability of line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight transmission of mmWave radio. 

NYU WIRELESS used these statistics to generate the first-ever rural path loss model for mmWave frequencies at 73 GHz, demonstrating the remarkable distances that can be achieved using mmWave. Rappaport will present the research, including measurements and models at the October 2016 Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) MobiCom “All Things Cellular” workshop in New York.

“The research contributions George has made to the wireless research community in three short years are truly extraordinary and more comparable to those of an assistant or even associate professor,” said Rappaport.

The Paul Baran Young Scholars Award, established in 2008 with a donation from Marconi Fellow Ron Rivest, a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will be presented November 2, 2016, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Young Scholars receive a $4,000 cash prize plus $1,000 in expenses to attend the event. Three other Young Scholars will receive the award.