From 2011 to 2013, I attended various modules of the MEng (Radar and Electronic Defence) at the University of Cape Town, graduating in 2013.
My supervisor was Prof Mike Inggs, and the topic of my thesis was “Study of Radar Signal Attenuation in Dust Storms”. (The abstract of Saad’s MEng Dissertation can be viewed here – and the dissertation itself can be downloaded here).
I am currently a PhD student at University College London, UK, and the topic of my research is the development of a fully polarimetric antenna for bistatic radar.
Were you involved in any interesting research during your studies?
Yes. All the students were involved in a shared project of studying the benefits and the technical improvements of replacing an airport traffic control radar with a new one; we had to make a decision at the end whether to go forward with the replacement or not.
That project developed my skills with regard to studying and assessing different radar systems.
My MEng Dissertation was a minor thesis (60 credits), so there was no chance to perform experiments and study any real data. Nevertheless, I had a chance to conduct studies and analyses on previously collected data and to generate some results.
What benefit did you derive from the Radar Masters programme?
I have been working on the radar field since 2009. The radar master programme gave me a better understanding of most aspects of the radar field, e.g. understanding various radar subsystems, radar signal processing and different radar types.
It gave me much more insight into the radar field and developed my research skills. It also encouraged me to complete my studies and researches in the same field.
What did you find the most enjoyable?
The most enjoyable and challenging part of the course was the way in which the programme has been designed: we had one week of lectures, then did self-studies until exam time.
Another interesting aspect of the programme was the different courses projects, which gave me more insight into the practical problems and challenges in the radar field.
And lastly, getting experienced people from around the world in each of the different areas to give the lectures in their specific area of expertise was a fantastic idea.
What did you find the most challenging about the course?
The most challenging part was relying on myself and studying entirely on my own after the lecture weeks had been completed and until the date of the final exam. We had short Skype discussion sessions with lecturers only once a week.
What made it even more challenging was the sheer number of pages of material the courses covered, as well as the various topics that were dealt with in each subject.
What is your current area of interest or research?
The research area that I am working on is the development of a fully polarimetric antenna that will be used in a bistatic radar project. I will later be involved in calibrating the antenna and in the data processing.
What are your goals for the future?
My most important goal for the future is to improve the level of radar research in my country (Saudi Arabia), as I am working in a research and development organisation. Also, I want to train freshly graduated engineers to be able to contribute to the field of radar research. Another goal of mine is to contribute to international efforts and work in the radar field.
What advice do you have for your fellow students?
Students in this field should work hard, try to link theory to practice, and to spend more of their time working on projects that have a real-life flavour. By doing that, they will be able to make a positive contribution to the radar field, and they will be able to make a difference.
Thank you for participating in our interview series, Saad.
University of Cape Town