Hua Shao came to the U of A in 2005 after completing her undergraduate degree at Peking University in China. Starting in ECE’s Master of Science program, Hua is now in the late stages of her PhD working in the iCORE Wireless Communications Lab. She has established herself as a valuable researcher for the department, which is reflected in the awards and accolades she has received, including a recent scholarship from the Chinese government and an IEEE Best Paper award. Hua sat down to discuss her experiences at ECE and the U of A.
What made you choose graduate studies at the U of A?
During my undergraduate years, I started to feel like I was very interested in wireless communications, and I wanted to devote more time to exploring this area. So when I started to apply to schools, I found out about Dr. Beaulieu’s team at the iCORE Wireless Communications Lab at the U of A and I was very impressed. Dr. Beaulieu has published a lot of papers that are highly cited and made important contributions to wireless communications. Besides that, the iCORE Wireless Communications Lab has a very significant networking and cooperation opportunities. A lot of the world’s top researchers have come to the lab to work with them.
The other reason I chose the U of A is that it’s a very friendly research environment. The professors here provide excellent tutoring and mentorship. And the government and the university have all kinds of scholarships for students. It lets students focus on their research and worry less about finances.
How did you become interested in wireless communications?
Wireless communications is a very fascinating area. There’s always new services and technologies coming up, and they’re very close to our lives. For example, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, WiMax, 3G and 4G cellular networks — it’s a pretty fantastic area of research.
What does your current research entail?
I’m working on ultra-wideband systems, which have significant differences from traditional wireless technologies. Every wireless device depends on its access to the radio-frequency spectrum. Since there there are so many wireless devices available nowadays, the spectrum becomes very crowded. So UWB is a very effective solution to spectrum scarcity problems. It utilizes huge bandwidth by transmitting at the noise floor of the service that is already operating. So it appears as a noise, and can operate without causing noticeable interference to the systems that are already operating within the bandwidth.
My work is primarily focused on the interference modeling and analysis of UWB systems. We have come up with several novel designs to improve UWB performance.
Do you have any plans for after your PhD?
I’m going to finish soon, but it’s hard to say at the moment. One thing for sure, I plan on staying in the wireless communications field, so somewhere where I can use my technical skills and academic background. You can see the connections between Canada and China are growing stronger every year. I have good experience here, so I’d like to contribute to enhancing the connections between these two nations, especially technologically.
Do you have any advice for international students considering come to the U of A?
I think you need to be prepared for differences in lifestyle when coming to Canada. I think my advice is get some information and get yourself prepared before you come here. I have to say that the U of A is a very good place for graduate studies. You can get a lot of good help here in the form of coaching and mentoring.