“Back in my home country, my mission will be to enhance space research”

Expertise gained at BME likely to benefit Africa as well.

”I chose BME for my doctoral programme because this is a prestigious university with a diverse range of academic programmes where I had access to the highest quality knowledge to support my professional development. In addition, it offered an excellent environment to improve my interpersonal skills and to engage in teamwork,” stressed Bernard Adjei-Frimpong PhD student who is set to defend his doctoral theses related to high frequency satellite wave propagation experiments in the near future. He added that this doctoral training served as a great background to improve his scientific, professional and technical knowledge and to lead him to the next level in his academic career. This knowledge will be useful in a wide variety of work environments: I gained experience in the fields of research, problem solving, management and organisation and also acquired the best mentoring skills.

”My home country has the foundations of a scientific infrastructure that will allow space research to play a key role in the West African region in the future,” said the young researcher who was born and raised in Ghana where he went to primary and secondary school. He comes from a big family with one brother and five sisters, some of whom work as teachers or run their own businesses. He completed his MSc studies in the South African Republic at the University of Technology in Cape Town and then returned to his home country. He developed a deeper understanding of space during his master studies having attended a number of courses focusing on this topic.

Bernard Adjei-Frimpong applied for a Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship to be able to conduct his PhD research at BME after collecting feedback from students who had studied in Hungary and, since one of his teachers at his secondary school had once been a student in Hungary, BME seemed an obvious choice. When he was admitted, he was in the first group to complete their PhD programme funded by the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship.

Bernard's supervisor was László Csurgai-Horváth, associate professor at the Department of Broadband Infocommunications and Electromagnetic Theory at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics (VIK) at BME and head of the Space Research Group, who has been working on a number of exciting projects with his colleagues recently: financed from two successful applications, in the fields of wave propagation and telecommunications and later technology transfer from the European Space Agency (ESA), they explored non-space applications of space technology innovations. (Editor note: bme.hu also reported on the signing of the successful application.)

The basic idea of the technology transfer application came from the already completed wave propagation experiment. Researchers from BME used the Alphasat satellite deployed by the ESA and Immarsat, a telecommunications company, to conduct scientific studies focusing on the interconnections between satellite data transmission and weather conditions. The PhD student from Ghana joined the team in the evaluation phase of the project: he studied the propagation of radio signals with millimetre wavelengths through the atmosphere, particularly focusing on interference caused by rain. (Editor note: the project was covered by bme.hu)

The objective of the successful application was the development of a ”Mobile 5G (fifth generation cellular network) wave propagation measurement instrument”. As a so-called high frequency down converter was previously made to capture satellite signals, the scientists suggested it could also be used for indoor wave propagation measurements. ”By lucky coincidence, one of the 5G frequency bands is the one we used in our experiment so we came up with the idea of a portable instrument,” said László Csurgai-Horváth adding that: ”these frequencies behave in a different way than the traditional smaller ones: as they have limited or no ability to penetrate buildings, it is especially exciting to study how a signal launched in a laboratory, classroom or a corridor reaches the receiver and how this process is affected by reflections from various surfaces and interferences”.

As the satellite wave propagation experiments were conducted in the so-called Ka and Q bands, the indoor measurements were made in the Q band inside the faculty building using the instrument designed. Bernard Adjei-Frimpong supported the project and included the results in his theses. (Q and Ka bands are the range of frequencies between 30–50GHz and 24–40GHz respectively.)

László Csurgai-Horváth (l) and Bernard Adjei-Frimpong (r)

Radio waves are important parts of our everyday life, being, for example, key to the use of mobile phones: the number and the positioning of the antennas is crucial, as is the quality of the signal sent by the transmitter, to ensure the most efficient operation while a highly active network of base stations is also a must. The instrument for measuring indoor wave propagation could be useful in this field as well: it is a promising sign for the future that negotiations on future cooperation with various companies are already under way.

”The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme is an excellent opportunity for students to study and to better understand other cultures. For us, teachers, it is a very interesting experience to meet foreign students. When Bernard returns to his home country and establishes the disciplines of space research and technology, which are scarcely known fields there, we will also feel pleased and happy that we could be part of that. And in the future, our university may work together and build valuable connections with partners from there,” said László Csurgai-Horváth in conclusion.

Bernard Adjei-Frimpong presented BME's role in the technology transfer projects of the ESA in the poster presentation of the H-SPACE 2020 conference

”My research area is a non-existent discipline in my home country. Nigeria is the only country in West Africa that has deployed satellites into space. The majority of the few experts in the region are engaged in radio astronomy only. While many go abroad to conduct scientific studies, awareness of the importance of this discipline is fortunately growing in Africa as well. Space research and technology help us understand many problems from the weather to agriculture, from telecommunications through medicine to climate change. When I return, I will work very hard to ensure that this sector grows in my country and that people understand its importance and many will choose to study this discipline,” stressed Bernard Adjei-Frimpong.

Fotó: Takács Ildikó, Philip János