Grad student team wins Qualcomm fellowship to make sub-THz communication more resilient

Written by
Scott Lyon
May 6, 2024

Two Princeton ECE graduate students have won a 2024 Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, supporting their effort to improve high-frequency wireless sensing and communication.

Robert Chen and Atsutse Kludze will receive a one-year fellowship that includes mentoring from a Qualcomm engineer and $100,000 in funding to help them realize their research goals. They are one of 16 teams across North America to receive the fellowship this year. Nearly 300 teams submitted proposals in one of nine subject matter areas, including advanced semiconductor design, autonomous driving, machine learning and communication techniques. Since it began in 2009, the program has awarded more than $20 million for graduate student research.

Chen and Kludze both work with Yasaman Ghasempour, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who specializes in the fundamentals of next-generation wireless communication and sensing. Their project will look for ways to bend electromagnetic waves in midair to effectively curve around obstacles when using the high-frequency spectrum known as the sub-terahertz (THz) band. While sub-THz signals can carry far more data than lower-frequency radio signals, they are easily absorbed by everyday obstacles. Blockage is the main challenge in high-frequency communications. To make sub-THz signals commercially viable, scientists and engineers must find ways to shape and guide the beams so the signals can avoid blockage in complex real-world conditions.

Chen earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University. In 2023, he won the department’s award for best assistant in instruction for his work on “Introduction to Wireless Communication Systems” (ECE 368). Kludze earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University. He previously won a GEM Fellowship and the department’s Yan Huo *94 Graduate Fellowship and Pramod Subramanyan *17 Early Career Graduate Award. In 2023, Kludze won best paper awards at ACM MobiCom and USENIX NSDI. Both students joined Princeton in 2021.