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Smith Receives National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Atlanta, GA
Liam Smith ECE

Liam Smith, a second year Ph.D. student in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), has been chosen as a recipient of the 2022 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship.

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Liam Smith, a second year Ph.D. student in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), has been chosen as a recipient of the 2022 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. The fellowship is the highest honor awarded to graduate students by the U.S. Department of Defense agencies. It will support Smith’s Ph.D. studies for the next three years.

Smith’s research centers on modeling space weather through machine learning (ML) — the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. Specifically, his work focuses on the near-Earth space environment’s response to space weather, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections — events that have potential to disrupt satellite communications, trigger outages for ground communication systems, degrade and destroy satellites, and, in extreme cases, knock out power across large regions.

Smith is using synthetic data from a theoretical model to train a ML algorithm with the goal of short circuiting the need for computationally intense physics-based model runs. Through this foundation it is possible to fuse the short-circuited model with data in a more effective way. This synthetic data is also being used with the intent of fusing with observations, which are sparse, to create a model that combines the benefits of both theoretical models and empirical data.

He received bachelor’s degrees in computational mathematics and EE with a minor in physics, as well as a master’s degree in EE with a focus on signal processing at Rochester Institute of Technology. Smith has been a member of the Low Frequency Radio Group at Georgia Tech since the Fall 2020 semester, and is advised by Morris Cohen, ECE associate professor.

The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship program was established in 1989 by direction of congress as an approach to increasing the number of United States (U.S.) citizens receiving doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines to Department of Defense Relevance. The highly competitive fellowship has awarded nearly 4400 fellowships from over 65,000 applications to U.S. citizens and nationals. It is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under the direction of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering.

Last revised April 13, 2022