Spring/Summer 1999 Table of Contents
Zhang confesses a penchant for quantitative reasoning, a personality
trait that is no doubt helpful in his signal processing research
with robotic submersibles. Zhang started his underwater studies
in his native China, receiving an M.S. in underwater acoustics engineering
at Northwestern Polytechnic University in Shaanxi province. Seeking
a more extensive mix of theoretical and practical research, he headed
to the University of Washington for a year, and then transferred
to MIT in 1995. Since his arrival, Zhang has been working with MIT
Sea Grants Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) Lab. Having
completed his double masters degrees in electrical engineering
and computer science and oceanographic engineering in 1998, Zhang
is now a Ph.D. candidate in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program. Under advisors
Art Baggeroer (Ford Professor of Ocean Engineering) and Jim Bellingham
(MIT Sea Grant AUV Lab principal research engineer), Zhangs
signal processing research focuses on taking raw information and
making it useful. What exactly does that mean? "Lets
say you have a good transistor radio and a bad one," he says.
"Why is a good one better? Because it filters out more noise."
has been figuring out ways to perfect signal processing with the
AUV Odyssey. In 1996, Zhang was part of the AUV Lab team that went
to Haro Strait, off the coast of Washington, to study the vigorous
mixing along tidal fronts. He expanded on that work a year later
using another kind of Doppler sonar, which provides a higher level
of precision. The findings from that novel research earned him awards
at the 1997 International Symposium on Unmanned, Untethered Submersible
Technology and from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Ocean
Engineering Division in 1998.
Thus far, Zhang has
participated in four field cruises. Along with learning that he
isnt prone to seasickness, he says those missions also taught
him a few practical lessons. "I learned about planning priorities,
about gaining as much raw data as possible, and about how to work
as a team."
With a reputation for
working hard and late, Zhang seems surprised when queried about
what else he likes to do. "A year ago I played badminton,"
he offers. "I enjoy listening to Peking Opera. And I love to
walk in Killian Court," he notes, referring to MITs vast,
green lawn. "When I look at the dome, I find motivation and
Such inspiration should
help as dissertation time nears. Zhang expects to receive his Ph.D.
in 2000 and looks forward to continuing his research in ocean engineering
and signal processing.
Cohen, MIT Sea Grant