Student Spotlight: Working Towards a "Sensed" Campus

January 14, 2008

Student Gurpreet Singh joins the research efforts on a campus-wide project to tackle issues of large sensor networks.

For his master's thesis, INI graduate student Gurpreet Singh (Pittsburgh MSIN, Class of 2008) is working to build a hierarchical naming scheme related to sensors, under the supervision of ECE and CS Professor Raj Rajkumar.

Gurpreet’s research is an extension of Sensor Andrew, a campus-wide test bed deployed on Carnegie Mellon's campus for new sensing technologies and applications. Sensor Andrew connects the physical attributes of the university's environment (e.g. temperature, humidity, light and pressure) to digital worlds. The goal of the project is to make Carnegie Mellon the most "sensed" campus and a living laboratory for a broad range of applications, as well as to help resolve issues related to the large-scale deployment of sensor networks.

Gurpreet aims to come up with a naming scheme for wireless sensor networks. With large-scale sensor networks, many tiny sensor devices, called sensor nodes, are embedded into the physical environment and distributed across the network. Conventionally, each sensor node is assigned a unique identification number, but a numeric naming scheme is arduous to use on a large scale.

How does someone find out the temperature at the Collaborative Innovation Center, first floor, Distributed Education Classroom if many sensor nodes are distributed across the campus and only identified by a number? With this request, getting to the correct sensor node is the challenge. Gurpreet’s proposal uses a notion similar to Internet domain names, based on plain English, which is easily understandable to the user.

Gurpreet has a strong interest in networking technologies and some prior work experience in sensor networks. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon he worked on the design and implementation of the IEEE 802.15.4 Zigbee MAC (medium access control) layer protocol. To search for his thesis topic, he actively contacted several professors of the ECE and CS departments who work on network technologies. He finally decided that the Sensor Andrew project would be the best fit.

Contributed by Eunjung Yoon, MS18