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Electronic Systems Lab


Assuring the communication capabilities of our warfighters, and limiting the communication capabilities of our adversaries, is essential to maintaining their safety and our national security advantage. In pursuit of this mission, the Electronic Systems Lab (ESL) performs state-of-the-art research and development into robust communication systems (including digital signal processing, antenna design, and FPGA development), the novel application of deep learning and reinforcement learning to these systems, investigation of cybersecurity attacks and defenses, simulation and design of integrated electromagnetic structures, as well as leveraging cutting-edge quantum computing technologies for solving traditional complex problems. The ESL partners with government and commercial sponsors to further the hands-on workforce development, experiential learning, and research experience of undergraduate and graduate students through independent study, scholarship/fellowship, and wage opportunities each semester.

To further support Hume’s student mission, the ESL is leading Virginia Tech’s engagement with the VIP Consortium to support multi-college research initiatives and runs Virginia Tech’s Introduction to Restricted Learning course (ENGE-2984) to provide students with a better understanding of performing cutting edge research for the United States government. 

  • Spectrum Dominance - improving the security and quality of our warfighters’ communications and sensing capabilities and reducing these capabilities for adversaries.

  • Communication Systems - improving the capabilities and performance of our warfighters’ sensor and communications platforms through improved digital signal processing, antenna design, and real-world test and evaluation.

  • Embedded Systems - deployment of state-of-the-art sensor and communication algorithms on hardware and exploring hardening/exploiting of hardware vulnerabilities

  • Quantum Computing - exploring the capabilities and limitations of quantum annealing and quantum gate computers to solve problems much faster than traditional computing systems.

  • Electromagnetic Systems and Structures - design and simulation of antennas, radomes and other functional structures, material characterization and development and manufacturing for highly integrated structures

Spectrum Dominance

  • LPI/LPD Waveforms - developing communication systems to avoid adversary sensing and eavesdropping. Point of Contact: Dr. Alan Michaels

  • Radio Frequency Machine Learning - leveraging state-of-the-art deep learning and reinforcement learning to improve spectrum sensing and communications systems. Point of Contact: Dr. William “Chris” Headley

Communication System Design

  • Digital Signal Processing - developing improved approaches to performing signal pre and post processing for sensing and communications applications. Point of Contact: Dr. Joseph Gaeddert

Embedded Systems

  • FPGA-based Communication System Design - deployment of state-of-the-art algorithms on FPGAs to support real-world deployment and real-time execution. Point of Contact: Devin Ridge

  • Cybersecurity - exploiting and mitigating cyber threats to embedded and wireless devices and systems. Point of Contact: Dr. Alan Michaels

Quantum Computing

  • Route Planning - development of quantum annealing algorithms for simultaneous and cooperative evacuation route planning in disaster situations as well as for material shipping. Point of Contact: Tom Krauss

  • Automotive Cybersecurity - research and development of quantum annealing algorithms for the verification/validation of embedded automotive software. Point of Contact: Tom Krauss

  • Detection/Classification - investigations in using a D-Wave quantum annealing machine for a subset of data processing, much like a graphics co-processor, while high-level organization is performed on a classical computer in order to drastically speed up detection/classification problems. Point of Contact: Tom Krauss

Electromagnetic Applications

  • Antenna Design and Testing - developing unique material and design solutions for constructing and manufacturing antennas for conformal and embedded applications on host platforms. Point of Contact: Dr. Brad Davis

  • Electromagnetic Structures - investigating material solutions and the design and development of arrays, radomes and other functional structures used to improve the performance and capabilities of communication and radar systems. Point of Contact: Dr. Brad Davis

The ESL is always on the lookout for motivated undergraduate students interested in performing restricted research. These undergraduate research opportunities provide students with hands-on experience learning how to perform research, experience writing and orally presenting their results to the broader research community, and mentorship from ESL faculty in advanced topics typically not covered in traditional undergraduate course work.

A summary of our on-going research projects and points of contact can be found here.


Additionally, each semester, the ESL holds a research open house in which ESL faculty present an overview of their undergraduate research opportunities for the following semester. To be added to the email distribution to get these notifications, please email Colleen Bartos.

The ESL is always on the lookout for talented and motivated graduate students to support research in our core research areas. If interested in advising opportunities, please reach out to one of the following ESL faculty members with research expertise relevant to your interests:

Dr. Alan Michaels

Dr. William “Chris” Headley

Dr. Brad Davis

Dr. Joseph Gaeddert