Lucus Scotta, '11

Project:
My team designed and built a prototype of a distributed radar simulator. This simulator is designed to test radar control software developed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory by mimicking radar hardware and simulating radar returns from targets in a virtual environment. When they are building the software, they need an easy, inexpensive way to test it without using real hardware or actually flying planes around.

The team worked closely with Lincoln Laboratory staff to ensure that the simulator design would be extensible to support different types of radar systems and scalable to thousands of targets. Finally, a distributed simulator was implemented in order to validate the project design.

Why I chose this project:
I chose the Lincoln Laboratory project center to see what it was like to work in the defense industry. It did lead to an internship there, too, which was great, for all the members of the team.

What I learned from my MQP:
I learned quite a bit about radar theory and was able to work with cutting edge tools and technology. We developed the prototype in C++. We had to use that because the simulator had to simulate things in real time within which all the calculations had to be performed. We used a lot of cutting edge features in C++ that are in the new version of the language just released, so that was pretty cool.

How I have benefitted from my MQP as a person, student, or employer:
I am a software development engineer working on the Task Manager for Windows 08 at Microsoft. I work on a team of about 7 people. All the skills I learned while doing my MQP directly transfer to what I am doing now – working with people, working on a large software project, collaborating in a team, and using C++.

I learned a lot of technical skills that were specific to C++. I also learned some soft skills like working with people and preparing presentations. It’s the perfect combination of theory and practice – when you actually do something, you build a lot of skills that are hard to learn in the classroom: solving real-world problems, working with others in the laboratory, and collaborating in teams.

What I accomplished:
Though the original goal was just to design the simulator, we ended up being able to build a working prototype at the end of the seven weeks. We built something that had never been built before and something that a lot of people needed and were interested in. They had simulators there for radar systems that were only on one machine, and they couldn’t scale to the fidelity or level of simulation that they wanted to be able to perform. We were able to meet this need, and this was very helpful for them.

We tied for first place in the CS MQP award.

Additional Comments:
The project-based curriculum is the main reason I chose to attend WPI. The IQP and MQP give you an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned to real problems, they build skills you couldn’t learn sitting in a lecture, and they teach you how to work with people in a team setting. All those skills transfer to my work now.

 
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