Antenna researchers collaborate
Engineers working on antenna research were traditionally in the dark about the research others were doing, effectively wasting resources and slowing down progress. To combat this, the European Network of Excellence has created a way to get researchers across Europe to share their resources.
The ACE Network of Excellence (NoE) stresses a coherent European approach to antenna research and the consortium includes 51 universities, research centres and industry representatives from 17 countries. It involves 323 researchers and 130 PhD students.
The 48-month project completed its first phase on 21 December 2005, with the second half of the project due for completion on 21 December 2007.
According to Bruno Casali, project coordinator, IDS Ingegneria Dei Sistemi, Pisa, the ACE project set out to create: structured research teams by coordinating national activities the harmonisation and standardisation of software tools and measurement techniques a European distributed education strong dissemination actions and durable plans and a web-based Virtual Centre for antenna researchers.
"We spent the initial part trying to identify the real challenges and problems in this area, and to create groups and common synergies," Casali said.
"The second part is implementing the ideas that came out of the existing structure."
According to Casali, ACE has sufficient budget, resources and time to implement the ideas that emerged.
In the long term, ACE Network hopes to create a non-profit organisation - the European Association on Antennas and Propagation EurAAP - to be based in Brussels. Its aim will be continued support of the results coming out from the ACE Project, beyond the Network duration.
"As a Network of Excellence, our key problem has been to organise existing relationships and networks, and to increase efficiency and relevance in Europe''s antenna research, boosting the level of innovation with a better flow of ideas," Casali said.
"We want to ensure that research is relevant to new and advanced applications."
The key accomplishment achieved by the ACE project is the Virtual Centre of Excellence in antenna research. It is a web-based resource that acts as a knowledge base and communications centre for researchers.
According to Casali, the site is of great assistance to workers in the antenna field and can help them to improve communications by promoting an exchange of knowledge.
The project wanted to take this resource one step further by providing researchers with the opportunity to meet and network in person.
"Before ACE, there were only small, scattered conferences. We wanted a very big Euro-level conference, as happens in the USA but with a European identity, where people could present their results," Casali said.
Ace organised a conference on antennas and propagators in Nice from 6-10 November 2006. There are also conferences proposed for 2007 in Britain and 2008 in Munich.
So far the project has achieved:
- The standardisation of software tools and measurements techniques for antenna analysis
- The creation of a set of joint European research teams, able to express the highest level of knowledge in antenna design
- An innovative model in education for antenna engineers, thanks to the European School of Antennas
- The European Conference on Antennas & Propagation EuCAP
- The ACE Virtual Centre of Excellence (VCE), at www.antennasvce.org.
"ACE is without doubt one of most successful NOEs, because we have been very sharp and very targeted about our objectives," Casali said.
Currently, there is no Australian involvement in the project, however Casali said ACE is keen to establish contact with Australian societies active in antenna research.
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