Wireless Research Center Led by NYU-Poly Ranks at Top in National Science Foundation Survey

Industry-University Consortium Pushes Technology to Cope with Annual Doubling of Wireless Data Traffic

The Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technology (WICAT), led by Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), ranked first among technology research centers in funding and second in the number of industry participants, according to a recent survey of centers funded by the National Science Foundation. The 2009-2010 data for WICAT included three other partner universities: University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Auburn University; subsequently, The University of Texas at Austin joined the consortium.

The WICAT university partners collaborate with industry to create flexible, efficient, and secure wireless networks for businesses, homes and individuals. With wireless traffic doubling every year and market forces limiting cost increases to below 10 percent annually, WICAT’s type of research is essential, said Shivendra Panwar, WICAT director and NYU-Poly professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“Wireless technology demands adventurous ideas to accommodate the growing number of applications and uses – a single movie requires a data transfer rate equal to one hundred phone calls,” he said.

WICAT was founded seven years ago, when David Goodman, now professor emeritus in NYU-Poly’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, saw the convergence of wireless and the Internet, Panwar said. The center drew together universities with differing expertise into a loose affiliation that encouraged collaboration and gave them a framework for government grants.

NYU-Poly’s research generally focuses on what Panwar calls “building bigger pipes,” such as cooperative networking that effectively turns a cell phone, laptop or new devices called femtocell base stations into a relay, thus increasing capacity. The University of Virginia's WICAT work centers on developing support technologies (for example, system-specific automatic video interpretation technology) to significantly improve the performance of wireless technology-based systems, such as unmanned military surveillance systems or health care systems supporting mobile users. Virginia Tech targets cognitive networking, which expands capacity by allowing multiple users within a spectrum. Auburn University focuses on cognitive networks, collaborative distributed mobile robotics, radio frequency chips and sensor networks. The newest partner, The University of Texas at Austin, has a large, wide-ranging research program.

According to the new survey, WICAT’s total funding of $11.9 million was 66 percent higher than the next research center. Its 35 industry members contributed nearly $1.6 million and included corporate giants such as Verizon, Cisco, Lockheed Martin and Intel.

Of the 42 centers surveyed, WICAT graduated the most doctoral students during the year (18), employed the most doctoral students (64) and published the most peer-reviewed research papers (96). It also scored high in the number of faculty scientists (32), graduate students (31) and undergraduates (17) employed in WICAT research, and in the number of presentations at academic conferences (113).

About Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is a comprehensive school of engineering, applied sciences, technology and research, and is rooted in a 157-year tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship: i2e. The institution, founded in 1854, is the nation’s second-oldest private engineering school. In addition to its main campus in New York City at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it also offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. Globally, NYU-Poly has programs in Israel, China and is an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi.