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Undergraduate Researchers

Ugonna Ohiri, Computer Engineering

"Standoff Chemical Detections using Quantum-Cascade Lasers and Microphone Arrays"

In this research we propose an innovative method for standoff chemical detection, using the techniques of photo-acoustic sensing and high sensitivity microphone arrays for acoustic beam-forming and noise rejection. Acoustic beam-forming is a technique used to detect signals along the formed beam while rejecting and filtering surrounding noise outside the regions covered by the beam. Similar to phase array antenna characteristics, we can form receiving beams using a 2D microphone array. The more microphone elements in the array, the narrower the receiving beam becomes (higher directivity). Our plan will be to use an array of 4 microphones and collect their signals simultaneously using a multi-channel A-to-D unit. The collected signals will be processed in real time with a delay time constant training section and will also achieve ambient noise cancellation and signal enhancement.

When and how did you find out that you could do independent research or creative work as a UMBC undergraduate?

After my two successful research experiences combined with the research I am doing this summer, I was very confident of my capabilities to do research on-campus. I was able to complete both solo and group research projects as each summer presented a newer opportunity. 

How did you find a mentor and decide on a project? How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?

My roommate is currently a returning URA Scholar and fellow Meyerhoff Scholar. He linked me up with his mentor to pursue a project that was in my realm of research interests. After meeting with him about the potential project, I was even more excited for his vision, direction, and contributions into real-world applications. 

How much time will you put into this research/creative work?

I plan to put as much time necessary to make sure the project is successfully completed.

What academic background did you have before you started on this research?

This past semester, I successfully completed three Computer Engineering courses for my major. I plan to use the knowledge I gained from these courses to help develop my research. In addition, I plan to use the concepts learned from my courses this semester. 

How did you learn about applying for the Undergraduate Research Award? Was the application hard? Did your mentor help you?

As a whole, I found the URA application to be moderately easy. I was able to get assistance from my mentor to help formulate the abstract and some of the additional details of the project.

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?

Have patience! In the process, there are times where it can and will become frustrating. Sometimes getting some fresh air or even setting mini leisure-time can help clear one's thoughts and open up the mind more.

What are your career goals?

Post-undergraduate education, I would like to obtain my PhD in Electrical Engineering. I plan to either teach in academia and/or continue to do research. I will take each day one step at a time.