Radar workshop at Beaver Works

Earlier this year, Lincoln Laboratory offered a new, one-day radar workshop based on the two-week Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE) program. The workshop was offered to 8th to 12th graders and was held at the Beaver Works facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This workshop was created based on the success of the two-week LLRISE program held in the summer. In the past two years, more than 200 rising juniors applied for the 18 available spots. Chiamaka Agbasi-Porter of the Communications and Community Outreach Group, coordinator of the outreach program, said "This one-day workshop was a great way to provide a sampling of the full program."

Eric Phelps (right) assists two students in testing the voltage of their radar. Eric Phelps (right) assists two students in testing the voltage of their radar.  


Alexis Prasov of Lincoln Laboratory's BMDS Integration Group began the workshop by providing a history of radar, followed by a lecture on radar operation given by Raoul Ouedraogo and Eric Phelps, both of the Advanced Sensors and Techniques Group. The students were introduced to MATLAB by Beverly Lykins of the Advanced Sensor Systems and Test Beds Group, and the leader of the workshop, Shakti Davis, of the Airborne Radar Systems and Techniques Group. "In a matter of hours, students were able to describe how radar works, interpret the plots, and explain their results," said Davis.

Shakti Davis explains how radar can detect moving targets. Shakti Davis explains how radar can detect moving targets.    


The real challenge was how to convert two weeks of lectures into an eight-hour course. Each lecture topic of the two-week program was shortened to 20 minutes. Students briefly are instructed in the history of radar, radar hardware, radar basics, ranging, Doppler, and an introduction to MATLAB. "The main reason the program could be altered into a one-day workshop," said Agbasi-Porter, "was the hardware. Students in the two-week program build their own working small radar system. Limiting the program to one day did not allow for such a heavy investment of time, so we removed the hardware build portion and gave the students a pre-built radar for their experiments."

Loren Wood (center) explains how to calculate a Doppler shift. Loren Wood (center) explains how to calculate a Doppler shift.    


Hands-on assignments provided breaks from the lectures, as the students were challenged to use an oscilloscope to calibrate their radar, view the signal in waveform, create Doppler spectrograms, and change variables to affect the spectrograms. Laboratory staff members Christ Richmond, Crystal Jackson, John Nwagbaraocha, Loren Wood, and David Granchelli served as mentors, ensuring that the students could complete the activities.

At the end of the workshop, each student group gave a presentation of their radar results, proving that they successfully understood the lecture material and the experiments. Agbasi-Porter said "This program was very successful in the form of a one-day workshop. I'm glad we could offer it to local students from underrepresented areas. This kind of experience can lead to more opportunities."


Posted June 2015

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