Developing future Wireless Technologies

If not for international border restrictions, many of us would be travelling to visit family, going on a holiday or, in the case of alumnus Harsh Tataria, returning to Sweden to receive a research grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

Harsh was recently awarded nearly 3.5 million Swedish Krona (approximately NZD 500,000) towards his research on wireless communication systems operating between 140-300 GHz frequency band.

Originally from Baroda, India, Harsh’s family moved to Wellington when he was 12. He joined Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington in 2010 to undertake his Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree, majoring in Electronic and Computer Systems. He then went on to complete a Ph.D. degree in Electronic Engineering, with his thesis titled Analysis of Multiuser Cellular Systems Over Heterogeneous Channels.

“Victoria University of Wellington offered a brand-new engineering set-up, with subjects that catered to specific demands of the industry—and that’s what drew me to the engineering programme. I was impressed by the opportunity to interact with leading subject-matter experts and was excited to develop a positive research and development culture in Wellington. I enjoyed learning how to take a systems-level approach to solve complex electronic engineering problems during the four years of my undergraduate studies,” says Harsh.

He completed his Ph.D. between 2014 and 2017 and then took up postdoctoral research fellowships to pursue research in communications engineering at three of the most prestigious engineering universities in the world—Lund University in Sweden, University of Southern California in the United States (US), and Queen’s University in the United Kingdom (UK). “The amount of learning I have had as I progressed through my academic career has been tremendous. Learning to adapt my research directions to stay on top of the latest developments in the telecom industry, and going on to set out new research directions/initiatives in wireless communications has been a challenging, yet an extremely rewarding experience,” he says.

Currently an Assistant Professor in Communications Engineering at Lund University, Sweden, Harsh’s multi-faceted role involves him being a part of various industrial, government and academia-led international and national research projects. “My research focuses on the real-time characterisation of radio propagation channels and RF transceiver front-end solutions for 5G-and-beyond systems. I value the opportunity to be able to ‘close the loop’ in the research and development cycle by taking solutions from theory to reality,” he explains.

Since 2017, Harsh has been part of more than 10 multinational projects on 5G-and-beyond systems with leading industrial telecom equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Sony, and Samsung. He has been a prolific contributor to multiple European Union research projects (in the Horizon 2020 scheme) involving large consortium of industrial and academic partners from different European countries. In addition, he has developed and maintained a strong international collaboration base with universities in the US, UK, rest of Europe and Oceania.

In addition to the grant from the Swedish Research Council, Harsh has also received funding from other organisations for his contributions to the field of communications engineering. In 2019, he was the principal investigator on a project titled Millimeter-Wave Propagation Measurements and Models supported by the Swedish Royal Academy of Natural Sciences, Medicine and Technology. In 2020, he received the Göran Linds Prize in Applied Electronics, awarded by the same organisation, for demonstrating research and development excellence towards a best-in-class 27.5-29.5 GHz RF propagation measurement equipment design involving integration of several complex analog, digital and embedded RF circuits.

“As an engineering student, I found it fascinating that each problem you face lends itself to very detailed solutions and has the ability to create deep impact on human lives. Most often, more than one solution existed, but choosing the ‘correct’ solution really depended on mastering the art of evaluating engineering trade-offs, something which I got better and better at doing as I progressed. It was a rewarding experience, filled with a lot of hard work,” he adds.

“In my current role, I have shared responsibilities for four Ph.D. students and four Masters students, which I greatly value and enjoy—it gives me the opportunity to interact with and influence the development of young communications engineers through technical and non-technical teaching and mentoring,” he says.