Recent Tandon alum wins recognition from AFAR

Weijie Wang took high honors in an international wireless challenge


Weijie Wang ranked second in fast estimate and third in final estimate at the AERPAW Find-a-Rover (AFAR) Challenge 

The Aerial Experimentation and Research Platform for Advanced Wireless (AERPAW) is a wireless testbed whose developers hope to accelerate the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) into the national air-space and to enable advanced wireless features for unmanned aerial system (UAS) platforms, like flying base stations for hot-spot wireless connectivity. 

Students from around the world were recently invited to participate in the AERPAW Find a Rover (AFAR) challenge, which called upon them to use a UAV outfitted with a software-defined radio to pinpoint the signal from an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).

When the drones landed and the results were tabulated, one name stood out: Weijie Wang, who had earned his B.S. in Computer Engineering at NYU Tandon in December 2023. Working only with his advisor, Wang went head-to-head with teams composed of multiple members — most of whom were doctoral students — and performed well enough for podium finishes in two categories.

Thanks to an algorithm he had developed while working with Research Assistant Professor Fraida Fund, during last year’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program, Wang placed second in the category measuring which team had the smallest localization error after three minutes of flight time and third in the category that measured smallest localization error after a 10-minute flight — an incredible performance given that he was a team of one and has not yet embarked upon graduate studies. (Wang is seeking a job in the wireless industry while deciding upon his future educational path.)

Fund, who is affiliated with the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications (CATT) and NYU WIRELESS, is confident Wang is prepared for either possibility. She explains, “Open experimental platforms, including AERPAW and others such as COSMOS, POWDER, FABRIC, CloudLab, and Chameleon Cloud, represent an exciting opportunity for research and for education. Weijie and other NYU Tandon students who develop valuable skills by engaging with these platforms as part of their coursework or research experience, will have a tremendous advantage in industry roles that demand these skills.”

While Wang found it gratifying to compete in AFAR (and took home prizes totaling $2,000), he keeps his eye on the bigger picture. “In the future, drones could boost 5G service by providing increased coverage and connectivity, while 5G could enhance drone operations by providing improved signal quality and precise location data, so that’s a win-win situation,” he says. “Overall, I believe my work could be of significant benefit in various sectors. In emergencies such as natural disasters, for example, it could play a crucial role in locating those needing help by using UAV localization to detect signals from personal devices.”