EECS500 Spring 2015 Department Colloquium

Tim Weadon and John Ford
Science and Engineering at the Green Bank Observatory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
White 411
March 24, 2015

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia, operates the world premiere single-dish radio telescope operating at meter to millimeter wavelengths, the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Its enormous 100-meter diameter collecting area, its unblocked aperture, and its excellent surface accuracy provide unprecedented sensitivity across the telescope's full 100MHz - 116 GHz (3.0m - 2.6mm) operating range. Part of the scientific strength of the GBT is its flexibility and ease of use, allowing for rapid response to new scientific ideas.


The Green Bank Observatory has been working with Case Western Reserve University graduate students from the Control & Energy Systems Center (CESC) on a few applied research projects in advanced control and systems engineering for the past few years.


We will be presenting a talk on scientific research and technical aspects of the Green Bank Telescope from an engineering viewpoint. The variety of research on the GBT is stunning as it stretches from Astro-chemistry, Astronomy, Astrobiology, tests of general relativity, to bouncing radar off planets, moons and near-earth asteroids. This talk will discuss experiments which will be of interest to engineers. Technical aspects relating to the size, design, performance and technical challenges of controlling the GBT will also be presented.


Mr. Tim Weadon is an Electrical Engineer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia. He received his BSEE from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1977. His background in systems integration started in the biomedical field with PET scanners at Washington University in St. Louis MO. Later he moved into avionics where he worked for McDonnell Douglas on equipment for the F-15, F-18 and the AV-8B then at Honeywell on Flight Management systems for various Business and Commuter aircraft. Mr. Weadon has been an engineer at the NRAO for 25 years where he has managed, designed, integrated and maintained a variety of subsystems for numerous telescopes.


Mr. John Ford holds a Master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Memphis.  He has been at the NRAO in Green Bank, WV since 1995, where he worked on control software before becoming Electronics Division Head in 1998.  Since then his technical work has included control system design, instrument control software, and FPGA-based digital signal processing systems.  His current research interests are in high-performance computing, machine learning, and FPGA-based digital signal processing.