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Department News

Faculty Spotlight with Dr. Michael Rice

Each week, we will be getting to know our faculty members a little bit better. This week, we will be getting to know Dr. Michael Rice.

Dr. Michael Rice

Dr. Michael Rice, professor of Digital Communication Theory and Stochastic Processes, has spent decades delving into research in wireless communications—specifically, airplane to ground radio links. The research is fitting, since what first inspired him to pursue electrical and computer engineering was a curiosity of how radios work.

His most exciting project within this topic was solving the “two antennae problem.” The problem was when transmitting data from the airplane, you had to put antenna receivers on both the top and the bottom of the airplane. If you transmit the same signal from both receivers, however, those two signals interfere with each other. The problem began in the 1980s and wasn’t solved until Dr. Rice and a team of graduate students tackled and conquered it in 2000. What made this project fun wasn’t just the thrill of solving a problem that had been left unsolved for decades, though—for Dr. Rice, it was the satisfaction of working on a real-world problem with real-world impacts. The work has now been published and incorporated into countless commercialized products, often with companies hiring him as a consultant.

When asked about his hobbies and goals outside of work (where he solves decades-long mysteries), Dr. Rice gave us the most relatable answers from a professor yet. He noted that “outside of work, ‘nothing’ is my favorite thing to do—preferably with my toes in the sand,” following it up with the answer that if he could discover one thing in his lifetime it would be “the secret to easy wealth”—us too, Dr Rice; us too.