Corey Baker is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. In his lab, students are creating ways to help people communicate during natural disasters when cell phone service is limited and power is knocked out. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You - Engineering Your World – Corey Baker
COREY BAKER (Computer Engineer):
I'm Corey Baker and I'm a computer engineer. I'm a military kid. So every four years, I was usually moving around. My dad was in the Marines for 21 years. He was a mechanic so he always kind of put me in a space to touch things, and had us working on vehicles at a very young age. When I got to college, I actually didn't know what engineering was at all. But I knew that I was always doing things with computers and I liked math. And that's how computer engineering and computer science kind of came about.
As a professor at a research 1 institution like University of Kentucky, you teach classes and then you also are responsible for conducting research. My research area is in opportunistic communication, which is creating connectivity, or establishing connectivity, when you don't have the internet or the cloud available. When you think about what happens when a natural disaster occurs, the weather hits, it knocks down cellular towers. It knocks down power. How can you leverage opportunities between people, mobile devices, vehicles, to fulfill some type of network situation?
STUDENT 1: Hi Everyone. Today I'm going to be presenting on my research.
BAKER: The lab right now is five graduate students. They're working on different projects in the research area of opportunistic communication and I help guide and mentor them. One of my students, she's doing the rural Appalachia medical cancer patient monitoring.
STUDENT 1: There's limited access to the internet, there's limited access to search network infrastructure.
BAKER: There's been millions of dollars spent trying to create broadband communication out there and it's just so expensive.
STUDENT 1: If we can find a way to improve communications both between the patients and their doctors, that would be much better for the patients.
STUDENT 2: It is an industrial drone that’s mostly used for precision agriculture.
BAKER: Another one is doing U.A.V. networks, or drones.
STUDENT 2: This drone has about a 3 mile flight range from the remote ground station.
BAKER: With the drone communication, can you put drones in certain places to help create communication?
STUDENT 2: By having a fleet of drones with communications between them, you're able to get much further away from the ground control station.
BAKER: If you ever use an application or use a device and you were like, "This could be better or I wish it can do this." If you ever asked those questions, then I think you have the right mindset to enter the field.
CAPE MAY COUNTY, New Jersey — Cell service get clobbered by a hurricane? Fly in a drone.
The rash of devastating storms that knocked out power and phone service to millions in the U.S. last year laid bare how vulnerable those technological lifelines are to extreme weather. Some companies are trying to use one of this decade's coolest developments — remote-controlled drones — as a temporary fix.
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