Thomas Hou of Blacksburg, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has won a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award worth $449,295 for research on wireless embedded sensor networks.

CAREER grants are the NSF's most prestigious awards for junior faculty members who are considered likely to be the academic leaders of the future. Recipients are selected on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education.

The goal of Hou's CAREER project is to develop a theoretical foundation for the design and deployment of wireless sensor networks, which are formed by locating a number of micro-sensor nodes throughout a large area. Wireless sensor networks are capable of collecting and transmiting a broad range of data and are being developed for surveillance and monitoring applications for the military, the environment, health-care, and numerous other complex systems.

Hou will investigate three areas critical to the design, deployment, and operation of wireless sensor networks: developing optimal netword routing for sensing data, understanding network performance limits and trade-offs, and uncovering inherent properties of energy-related network problems.

"Our approach is multidisciplinary," Hou said. "It spans the fields of wireless communications, networking algorithms, and optimizations. The outcome of this research will fill important gaps in the current understanding of wireless sensor networks, enabling this growing field to fully realize its potential."

After graduating with a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1991, Hou earned his master's degree at Columbia University in 1993 and his Ph.D. at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn in 1998, all in electrical engineering. He received Polytechnic University's Alexander Hessel Award for the outstanding Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

From 1997 to 2002, Hou was a research scientist and project leader at Fujitsu Laboratories of America in Sunnyvale, Calif. (Silicon Valley). He joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2002.

Hou has published extensively in the area of wireless and multimedia networking and is a co-recipient of two best paper awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -- for the 2001 Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology and the 2002 International Conference on Network Protocols.

In addition to the CAREER Award, Hou also has won an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award and a NSF Information Technology Research program grant since joining Virginia Tech.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.


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