Sensor Network Laboratory (SNL)

Sensor Network Laboratory (SNL)

This faculty research team is working to address the need for long-range wireless networks of small, low-cost, and low-power sensors for the study of Earth’s climate from both the atmosphere and space. As part of the development process, students will be exposed to an entire end-to-end design process, including background research, concept generation, simulation, prototyping, and validation by experiment both in the laboratory and the field. Students joining this group will be asked to join one of two primary projects, based on their interest and expertise:

SNL1The Mapleseed project is to develop a passive (i.e., free-falling) wireless in-situ sensor platform inspired by the natural aerodynamic performance of samara seeds for use in detailed sensing of various properties of Earth’s atmosphere. Over the project’s lifetime students developed a number of very small wireless circuit boards (using TI cc1310 radio) along with 3D printed airframes. New members starting in Winter 2018 will join the current effort to refine the developed technology as well as to demonstrate the wireless, environmental sensing, localization and wind tracking capabilities of a small cluster (10) of free falling mapleseed flyers in real tests in Earth’s lower atmosphere.


DUSTCOM is an effort to develop a standardized telecom subsystem for networks of cubesats providing automated mesh protocols for data routing and self-repair among the different nodes.  Previously, hardware was prototyped based on commercial XTend radios (UHF) at U of M and this task will leverage that experience while focusing on achieving flight-readiness within 3-years’ time.

Students who successfully match to this faculty research team will be required to sign the following document in January 2018:

Student IP Agreement for Faculty Research Teams

2018 Terms and Conditions

How to Apply

Project Features

  • Skill level All levels
  • Students 13-23 Students
  • Likely Majors AERO, Any, CLaSP, CE, CS, ECE, EE, MSE, MATH, ME, PHYSICS
  • Course Substitutions ECE Cognate
  • IP & NDA Required? Yes
  • Summer Opportunity Summer Funding Application
  • Electronics Subteam: RF (2 Students)

    Preferred Skills: antenna design, impedance matching, RF circuit design/PCB layout in Altium Designer, experience using anechoic chamber, network analyzer, spectrometer, ADS

    • Likely Majors: EE, CE
  • Electronics Subteam: Communications (2 Students)

    Preferred Skills: data link budgeting, wireless network design, DSP, software-defined radio, GNU radio, C/C++, Python, GPS/dGPS

    • Likely Majors: CE, EE
  • Electronics Subteam: PCB Design (2 Students)

    Preferred Skills: PCB Layout using Altium Designer, circuit design, embedded hardware and software, firmware using C, experience with oscilloscope, meter, surface mount/ through-hole assembly

    • Likely Majors: EE, CE
  • Electronics Subteam: Power (1 Student)

    Preferred Skills: thermal modeling/analysis, climate/vacuum chamber testing, power circuit design, battery/capacitor/solar cell testing

    • Likely Majors: EE, CE, ECE
  • Electronics Subteam: Physics (1 Student)

    Preferred Skills: experience with RADAR, LIDAR, optics

    • Likely Majors: EE, PHYS
  • Software Subteam: Lead (3 Students)

    Preferred Skills: experience with wireless network design (connection-oriented, connectionless, P2P), embedded system design, (real-time) operating systems, leading software project(s), C, Python, Windows/Linux

    • Likely Majors: CE, CSE/CS-LSA
  • Software Subteam: Embedded Programmer (2 Students)

    Preferred Skills: experience with embedded software, firmware, protocols (I2C, UART, SPI), motors, Linux, Raspberry Pi, C, Python, scripting, HDL

    • Likely Majors: Any
  • Software Subteam: Robotics (1 Student)

    Preferred Skills: experience with localization (Kalman Filters, IMU, GPS, altimeter, magnetometer), sensor fusion

    • Likely Majors: CSE/CS-LSA, CE, EE, PHYS, MATH
  • Aerospace Subteam: Orbital Analysis (1 Student)

    Preferred Skills: Orbital analysis using STK, MATLAB, Simulink to look at orbital decay, constellation propagation

    • Likely Majors: AERO, ME, SPACE
  • Deployment Subteam: Mechanical (2 Students)

    Preferred Skills: mechanical prototyping, 3D printing, Solidworks Design, thermal modeling

    • Likely Majors: Any
  • Science Subteam (3 Students)

    Preferred Skills: interest in atmospheric, climate, and space science

    • Likely Majors: Any, CLASP
  • Web Development (1 Student)

    Preferred Skills: experience with website design/construction, graphical design

    • Likely Majors: ANY
  • Apprentice Researcher (2 Students)

    Requirements: interest in project material, willingness to develop skills. OPEN TO FRESHMEN AND SOPHOMORES ONLY.

    • Likely Majors: ANY

Faculty Sponsor: Darren McKagueJustin Kasper
Associate Research Scientist, Climate and Space Sciences
Dr. Darren McKague is an Associate Research Scientist in the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department. He has been involved in remote sensing for 20 years, in industry and in academia, with an emphasis on passive microwave remote sensing, microwave radiometer calibration and inversion algorithms. Work in the area includes the design of the calibration sub-system the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI), development of microwave radiometer technology including next-generation calibration sub-systems, design of several advanced concepts for future space-borne missions, management of multiple space-borne projects for planetary exploration, and the development of multiple algorithms for the retrieval of geophysical parameters from satellite data including ocean winds, sea and land surface temperatures, water vapor and temperature profiles in the atmosphere, precipitation rate, cloud density, and snow depth for multiple satellite missions.