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2004 Silver Medal for Scientific/Engineering Achievement

Three Local Engineers Receive High Honors from U.S. Department of Commerce

Three staff members of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) in Boulder, Colo., received a Silver Medal for Scientific/Engineering Achievement from the U.S. Department of Commerce at ceremonies in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, November 9, 2004. They shared the award with a colleague from NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management (OSM).

Electronics engineers Frank H. Sanders of NTIA/ITS, Jeffery A. Wepman of NTIA/ITS, and Steven R. Engelking of NTIA/ITS, along with Robert Sole of NTIA/OSM, received a group silver medal for developing technology to assess the performance of Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) devices. DFS is a new technology that may make it possible for WiFi and other wireless communications systems to share the 5 GHz portion of the spectrum currently occupied by radars. This accomplishment supports the Commerce Department's strategic objective to advance innovative spectrum sharing technologies.

DFS devices listen for radar energy on their operational frequencies and then jump to other frequencies where there are no local radar signals, to avoid interference. However, there were no testing systems in place that could verify proper operation of emerging DFS devices. Sanders, Wepman, Engelking, and Sole developed a testing system which replicates the most advanced radars in the world. The testing system fires a series of radar pulses at a DFS device, and then monitors the device to verify that it stops transmitting when it is hit. The testing technology design has been transferred to other agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, as well as private companies domestically and abroad.

ITS is the research and engineering arm of NTIA. ITS performs telecommunications research to support NTIA and Commerce Department goals. NTIA serves as the principal adviser to the Executive branch on domestic and international telecommunications and information policy issues.