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Daniel Weile wins NSF Early Career Development Award

Daniel S. Weile, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UD, is seeking a missing link in computational electromagnetics.

2:17 p.m., April 23, 2004--Daniel S. Weile, a University of Delaware assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering who is seeking a missing link in computational electromagnetics, has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award.

The five-year, $400,000 award will support Weile’s research on a new computational electromagnetics technique, called Accurate Marching By Band-Limited Extrapolation, or AMBLE, that could help in the design of modern communications systems.

The award, one of the National Science Foundation’s highest honors for young faculty members, recognizes and supports the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Weile is the third UD faculty member to be presented the award this year. Joel Schneider, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Darrin Pochan, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, also have been honored in 2004.

“Prof. Weile’s research focuses on computational electromagnetics, which is of importance in many areas of electrical and computer engineering, including communications, sensors, semiconductor design, smart-materials and nanotechnology,” Gonzalo Arce, chairperson of UD’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said. “Our department has a strong commitment to the integration of research and education that is made possible by the NSF program. This award will significantly accelerate his research contributions and will provide him with a mechanism to broadly integrate his research activities into our undergraduate programs.

“The NSF award is competitive and is a good indicator of the quality and potential of young investigators,” Arce added. “We are very pleased that Dan has joined several of our junior professors who have been selected for this prestigious award.”

Weile said the focus of his research is in developing a new method for doing computational electromagnetics. Currently, three methods are in use, but logic would suggest that there should be four, given that there are two types of equations (integral and differential) and two domains (frequency and time).

However, for the last three decades, researchers have avoided the fourth method, the time-domain integral equation, because it has proved to be extremely problematic. “This method has never worked,” Weile said. “It has been unstable, and no one could ever figure out why. It tended to accumulate errors that washed out the solutions to the equations, so it was utterly useless. It didn’t even give an approximation of a sound answer.

“We believe we have found the core problem as to why it was unstable in the first place, and we think we’ve found a way to solve the problem,” Weile said.

The value of the research, he said, is that AMBLE can be used to tackle many of the outstanding problems in electromagnetics for which the other three methods of computation are unsuitable.

Once a code is developed it could be particularly useful for modeling cellular telephone systems. “You will be able to better simulate the system since you will no longer have to assume the person using the phone is standing still,” he said.

Weile said this is not the sort of project that will result in the creation of a specific product but rather it is work that could provide other scientists the tools to enable the creation of thousands of products. “At the end, what we hope to have is a very robust code,” he said.

Weile developed an interest in electromagnetics as he began graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I saw the field was taking a computational turn,” he said. “It was taking a very mathematical approach to a physical problem.”

Weile took a particular interest in the missing link of time-domain integral equations. “There was a gaping hole out there,” he said. “I wondered why, after 30 years, no one had been able to make it work. It was a problem begging for a solution.”

Weile has been on the UD faculty since August 2000. He earned bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics from the University of Maryland at College Park and master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Article by Neil Thomas
Photo by Kathy Atkinson

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