Abdelrahman Wins 2001 Sigma Xi Research Award

The national television slogan "wider is better" also describes the recent award-winning work of Mohamed Abdelrahman. His measurement system to control experiments and record and share data will aid a wider variety of researchers than current measurement applications now serve.

Abdelrahman, a TTU assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been named TTU's 2001 Sigma Xi research award winner for his paper, "A Methodology for Development of Configurable Remote Access Measurement System," published in the December 2000 issue of ISA Transactions, a publication of the International Society for Measurement and Control.

The simplest measurement system is where a researcher manually operates an instrument and records the data. With digital computers, manual measurements can be done more efficiently by letting the computer collect the data -- but these systems involve complex programs that are often hard to write and update.

Abdelrahman's work is with the next enhanced step in measurement systems -- using technological advancements to allow instruments to be connected to servers that are in turn connected to the Internet. Through the Internet, researchers have control to set up the equipment and access experiments. It's an improvement on the currently available Internet-based measurement systems and offers an interface to complex measurement systems; that interface is easy to maintain, modify and expand.

"Recent advances in the communication world are creating an ever increasing demand for the remote accessibility of facilities and sharing of resources among institutions," said Abdelrahman.

To answer that demand, the configurable remote access system (CRAMS) allows researchers to create a remotely accessible laboratory environment, whether it be a traditional lab or a remote, rural site thousands of miles away, using instruments connected to a personal computer server. What makes CRAMS different from other data gathering systems on the Internet is that it is not designed for one specific type of experiment. It is a generic application that allows users to set up instruments and collect and analyze data through the Internet.

"Many times it is not convenient or desirable for a researcher to be at a remote site, if your experiment is in Alaska, for instance," said Abdelrahman. "For hazardous environments, rural and remote sites, CRAMS can be used with instruments at the site to monitor and control the work."

CRAMS also provides extended access to research or educational laboratories.

"In a university setting, you may not be able to keep a lab open 24 hours a day, but with CRAMS, students could have continuous access to their experiments," he said. "Also, students sharing resources with others can have remote access to experiments through this system."

Abdelrahman's CRAMS research also received a certificate of excellence from the Seventh International Conference on Production Engineering Design and Control in Alexandria, Egypt, this year.

Sigma Xi is an international scientific research society. Each year, the Tennessee Tech chapter recognizes excellent scientific research by one faculty member for a research paper published or accepted for publication.