Rick Blum, who has earned international renown for his work in signal processing, with applications from concealed weapon detection to energy-efficient wireless sensor networks and radar arrays, has received a top honor in his field.
Blum, the Robert W. Wieseman Chair in electrical engineering and director of Lehigh’s Signal Processing and Communication Research Lab, was recently named a Distinguished Lecturer by IEEE’s Signal Processing Society (SPS).
IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is the world’s largest professional organization devoted to advancing technology. SPS, formed in 1948, was IEEE’s first society.
Each year, SPS chooses five members to serve two-year terms as Distinguished Lecturers. The lecturers, who are educators and authors, are nominated by technical committees, SPS chapter chairs, and editorial and other boards.
The goal of the program is for lecturers to share their expertise by giving talks at SPS chapters.
Blum gave his first lecture, “Sensor Networking for Detection: from Distributed Signal Detection to Energy Savings to MIMO Radar,” last month at Penn State University.
He has been contacted by Purdue, Duke and North Carolina State Universities and the University of North Carolina to arrange future talks.
Toward a more intelligent power grid
In one talk, he will discuss his latest research, a study on using signal processing to recognize intrusions in “smart grid” systems. This research is part of an interdisciplinary effort by Lehigh researchers. Led by Blum, the group hopes to increase the efficiency of electrical power generation and transmission by using sensors, networks and algorithms to respond to demand and manage distribution in real time.
Blum has conducted pioneering research in distributed signal detection, image fusion, sensor networks, MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) communications and MIMO radar. In the 1990s, as one of the first researchers to establish the theory of distributed signal detection, he received a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
In sensor networking, Blum helped develop an approach called ordering, in which sensors assess their data and those with the more informative data transmit first. Blum’s group proved that ordering arrives at the same decision as an approach in which all sensors transmit without assessing data. They showed that 50 to 99 percent of sensor transmissions can be cut without loss in performance, resulting in significant energy savings.
Blum has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Army Research Office to develop the ordering approach and to seek greater energy efficiency in battery-powered wireless sensor networks.
Eight years ago, funded by the Army Research Office, Blum and his students made fundamental contributions to the theory of image fusion, or combining images from different types of cameras (visual and millimeter wave) to detect concealed weapons. The project was featured in Discover and Prism magazines, in The Wall Street Journal, and on ABCnews.com.
Blum is lead author of Multi-Sensor Image Fusion and Its Applications, a book published in 2004 by Dekker/CRC Press.
His group is recognized as inventing MIMO radar, a new distributed antenna system. Their paper, “MIMO Radar: An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” published by the 2004 IEEE International Radar Conference, was the first on the topic and has been highly cited.
In three decades of research, Blum has received research funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance, as well as NSF, ONR and the Army Research Office.