Campus & Community

Stevens Student Wins Ph.D. Award for Outstanding Academic Performance

Fangzhou Wang was recognized with a prestigious award following his engineering work at Stevens, which will help advance spectrum utilization efficiency

The Paul Kaplan Award is given to a Ph.D. candidate who demonstrates outstanding academic performance, strong research and publications and remarkable promise in future endeavors. This year, Fangzhou Wang – who received a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 2021 – received the honor, capping off his exceptional journey at the university.

Wang’s dissertation addressed a spectral coexistence of radar and wireless communications systems, a pertinent area of research due to spectrum shortage. There is a significant interest to address the need for more bandwidth to allow for high-quality wireless services, such as 5G and 6G. There is also a need for sensing capabilities in automotive radar and health applications.

Through his work at Stevens, Wang developed the first hybrid active-passive sensing method that will result in radar improving sensing performance by using co-channel wireless sources as illuminators.

“My coexistence technique will enable radar to open more spectrum for sharing and improve spectrum utilization efficiency,” Wang said.

He also developed a signal processing framework that will facilitate the joint optimization of sending and communication performance.

In addition to the Paul Kaplan Award, Wang has numerous achievements through his work at Stevens. They include: 12 published journal papers (seven as first author), seven published conference papers, two additional submitted journal papers, the 2022 Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award in Electrical Engineering, the 2018 Electrical and Computer Engineering Outstanding Research Assistant Award, a contribution to a $750 thousand National Science Foundation proposal awarded in 2019, and several other research proposals and IEEE North Jersey Advanced Communication Symposium Poster Awards in 2016, 2018 and 2019.     

For Wang, it’s been a challenging and rewarding journey. He was born in a rural village in the Sichuan Province in China, and is the first college student of his family.

“I may not be the smartest man among my peers, but I always try to be the most self-motivated and hardworking one,” Wang said. “That is the best way to change my life.”

He expressed that after years of work, receiving the Paul Kaplan Award was “an honor” and he’s made his family and friends proud.

Wang was grateful that Stevens recognized his work, as well. He credits Hongbin Li, Charles and Rosanna Batchelor Memorial Chair Professor, for guiding him throughout the academic process.

“In my heart, I think Professor Li is the best advisor a Ph.D. student could have,” Fangzhou said. “The past several years of study under his guidance was a life-changing experience for me.”

Wang elaborated on how professor Li influenced him and how his lessons will continue to resonate in the future.

“His advice on how to think critically and systematically and on how to write concisely and clearly will be with me throughout the rest of my life,” he said. “His professionalism sets a perfect example for me, and he will always be my role model. I am so thankful for his patience and precious encouragement at the beginning of my Ph.D. journey when I was still a research rookie.”

While Wang expressed how much he enjoyed the scenery at Stevens – including walks along the Hudson River – the university provided the experience he was searching for, and he’s thankful for deciding to attend.

“I had wonderful years at Stevens,” he said. “All the faculty and staff members within the department are so professional and helpful.”

Along with his degree from Stevens, Wang received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the Beijing Institute of Technology in 2012 and 2015, respectively. He began postdoc training at the University of California Irvine in March 2022.

“I want to continue to do research in academia and hopefully land a tenure-track faculty position in the near future.”

Professor Li previously expressed that Wang was an impressive student.

“He demonstrated a high level of ability and standard in conducting creative research. It is very gratifying to have students like him,” Li said.

Learn more about academic programs and research in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering: