Novel approaches to improving wireless networks earn PhD student multiple awards

by Emily Sugarman

Published January 26, 2018

The good news kept coming for Swetank Saha, a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, whose top-notch work on next generation wireless networks earned him three awards this past semester.

"This is the first time a student from our department has won a prize at MobiCom’s Student Research Competition. This achievement exemplifies the quality of our students and faculty, and we congratulate Swetank and his coauthors on earning this recognition.”
Chunming Qiao, professor and chair
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Portrait photo of Swetank Saha, an award-winning PhD student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Swetank Saha earned three awards for his research to improve wireless networks.

Most notably, Saha, who hails from Mumbai India, earned third place in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Research Competition, held as part of the 23rd Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, which took place outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, this past October. 

According to the event’s website, “The MobiCom conference series serves as a highly selective, premier international forum addressing networks, systems, algorithms, and applications that support mobile computers and wireless networks.”

Saha’s presentation, “Can MPTCP Improve Performance for Dual-Band 60 GHz/5 GHz Clients?” not only received commendation from the judges—but also captured the essence of the competition, which is “dedicated to addressing the challenges in the areas of mobile computing and wireless and mobile networking.”

“Given this conference is attended by who’s who of researchers working in the mobile systems area, it was great to be able to compete with other PhD students from universities across the US and outside and be able to win third place there,” said Saha.

"This is the first time a student from our department has won a prize at MobiCom’s Student Research Competition,” said Chunming Qiao, a SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of UB’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “Incidentally, his advisor, Dimitrios Koutsonikolas, won the same prize several years ago as a PhD student at Purdue. This achievement exemplifies the quality of our students and faculty, and we congratulate Swetank and his coauthors on earning this recognition.”

Saha’s success did not end there — his paper, “X60: A Programmable Testbed for Wideband 60 GHz WLANs with Phased Arrays,” won runner-up for the Best Paper Award at ACM’s WiNTECH 2017 competition, held during the same conference.

“As the title indicates, the paper is about a new experimental platform that we set up at in our lab here at UB. The testbed allows us to better understand and improve upon 60 GHz/mm wave communication, in ways that were not possible or easy enough to do with existing systems, towards the goal of building a lightning fast WiFi network,” said Saha.

In addition to his involvement with international competitions and the demands of being a PhD student, Saha took advantage of professional development opportunities for graduate students in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. For example, he won first place in the Lightning Talk Competition, which was held as part of the school’s Career Perspectives Networking Conference. His topic was “Fast and Infuriating: Building Super-Fast WiFi!”

“The challenge here was to convey the essence of my research work of the last two and a half years in just 3 minutes to an audience not familiar with the topic, and still get them excited about it,” said Saha. 

Judges included UB alumni Jim Wehrfritz (BA ’78, civil engineering), Allison O’Connor (ME ’91, aerospace engineering), and Ryan Litt (BS ’05, computer science) as well as current electrical engineering PhD candidate and Three-Minute Thesis winner, Phil Schneider.

Saha’s work is funded by two recent grants from the National Science Foundation, both of which aim to help develop the next generation of wireless networks and improve the performance of smartphones. His advisor, Dimitrios Koutsonikolas, is the principal investigator on both grants.