Elkeelany contributes to "Engineering Team in a Box" technology

The recent launch of a new computer networking technology means what happened in Las Vegas is not staying in Las Vegas for Tennessee Tech University assistant electrical and computer engineering professor Omar Elkeelany, who played a vital role in developing what's being billed as "an engineering team in a box."

Elkeelany contributed to the WideBand nMU, a hardware device that troubleshoots and manages problems on a computer network. The device, which took worldwide stage in May at a computer networking conference in Las Vegas, enables a computer network to virtually manage itself.

"Dr. Elkeelany made a significant contribution to the development of this product," said Roger Billings, president of WideBand Corp.

The product, already in use by several businesses, schools and hospitals, protects mission critical networks, those where interruption of service means jobs cannot be performed. One example is in hospitals where heart monitor signals travel through networks. Any interruption, even for a millisecond, could have disastrous consequences.

If the nMu senses hardware failure that could cripple or shut down a network, it immediately reroutes the network without interruption. If the server malfuctions, the nMu switches to a mirrored server. It also monitors all the network cabling and informs a repair team when and where a defect occurs.

According to Billings, Elkeelany was responsible for the router interface, one of the more complex parts of the nMu. The cutting edge development project was the first time the management function of the switch was performed completely in hardware, without the deployment of an embedded processor.

"It's simple in that if you have to manage every switch separately, it's a headache," said Elkeelany. "nMU has a customized hardware chip that is cleverly programmed by software to execute innovative network management functions."

Elkeelany's connection to WideBand Corp. came about while he was working on his doctorate at the University of Missouri. He caught Billings' eye as a student and worked as a consultant for a year after graduation under the company president's direct supervision. Elkeelany joined TTU's faculty in August 2005.

"Dr. Elkeelany is a pretty amazing technologist because he is able to combine theory with a connection to the real world," said Billings. "That kind of combination is invaluable to a university or any organization, including a business."

Elkeelany received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a doctor of research degree from the International Institute of Science and Technology of Independence, Mo.

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