Sarmad Shaikh | Foto: aau/Müller

Localizing radio nodes

Sarmad Ahmed Shaikh hopes to “make a contribution to the ongoing development of wireless communication.” Thus, he left Karachi to pursue his Master’s degree in Istanbul and now he completed his doctoral degree in Klagenfurt. His research revolves around the localization of radio nodes.

Large-scale, so-called “massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO)” systems are continuously improving nowadays, not least due to the drive propelling wireless communication. When numerous antenna elements receive and transmit signals simultaneously, signal processing becomes highly complex. This is particularly true for the future generations of mobile communication, such as 5G.

In this environment, which is increasingly becoming faster and more complex, it is important to be able to localize individual radio nodes with simplified system architecture. Over the past three years, Sarmad Shaikh has worked on new technologies designed to render the localization process simple and efficient. “We combine an electromagnetic lens with a massive antenna array to perform the localization of the radio nodes based on the angle of arrival of the incident electromagnetic waves”, he explains. However, anyone picturing Sarmad Shaikh criss-crossing the Lakeside Park area weighed down by mobile phones whose position he is trying to determine, would be mistaken: “I only work with simulations, and I develop and test algorithms. The experiments I run are the mathematical kind.”

Sarmad Shaikh completed his research work at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems under the supervision of Andrea Tonello. Assisted by a scholarship awarded jointly by the government of Pakistan (HEC) and the Austrian agency for international mobility and cooperation in education, science and research (OeAD), he arrived in Klagenfurt in November 2015, having successfully navigated the “highly complicated bureaucratic procedure” of entering Austria.  Prior to that, he completed his Master’s degree in “Electronics engineering” at the Sabanci University in Istanbul and Bachelor’s degree in “Telecommunications Engineering”, at National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Islamabad.

When we asked him about his early days in tranquil Klagenfurt, he told us: “At first it was rather boring.” However, he went on to discover the mountains and lakes, the joys of cycling and hiking, and came to appreciate the peaceful surroundings. “Nowadays, I’d rather not leave”, he tells us with a smile. Nonetheless, he is due to return to his native country of Pakistan, where he will take up a position as Assistant Professor at the Pakistan Air Force-Karachi Institute of Economics and Technology (PAF-KIET) University, Karachi. He will be taking a big portion of motivation with him, as he tells us: “Nothing is impossible, and we can solve even the most challenging problems, provided that we work hard. Wireless communication shapes our daily lives and I want to do my part to ensure that the technology is continuously optimized.” Sarmad Shaikh has not yet decided whether he wants to work in the field of academic research or in the industrial sector in the long term. With brothers and sisters who have also trained as engineers, he feels at home in the world of international academia and he is excited about the wealth of interesting development opportunities ahead of him.


A few words with … Sarmad Shaikh

What career would you have chosen, if you had not become a scientist?
I would have chosen to be part of the Pakistani cricket team.

Do your parents understand what it is you are working on?
They understand that I am working in a scientific society.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at the office in the morning?
I check out my email account with a fresh cup of coffee.

Do you have proper holidays? Without thinking about your work?
Research work always remains on my mind. Sometimes I even come to the office at the weekends in order to complete my tasks as soon as possible.

What makes you furious?
When my running code suddenly stops working or when I get unexpected error related to computational resources.

What calms you down?
When my professor is satified with my arguments/solution concerning a specific problem.

Who do you regard as the greatest scientist in history, and why?
I see Mr. Guglielmo Marconi as the greatest scientist in history (1874-1937). This Italian scientist introduced the radio communication concept. Currently, most of the communication systems work on his theory of radio propagation, making our lives much easier.

Why do so many people fear the technical sciences?
Well, it is not about fear, but rather about choosing comfort.

What are you afraid of?
I am afraid of companies that do not treat researchers fairly.

What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to continuing my research in the same area of RF/Wireless communication and further contributing my scientific knowledge to society for a better future.

Studying technology at the Universität Klagenfurt

Research and teaching excellence is what sets Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt’s technology programmes apart. Established in 2007, the Faculty of Technical Sciences prides itself on its exceptional student-supervisor relationships, which facilitate continuous, profitable exchange between tutors and students at all levels. Our technology programmes, which have a large practical component and focus on our key strengths (e.g. Informatics, Information Technology and Technical Mathematics), open up a world of opportunities for our students. More