Student Design Competition Descriptions

IMS2018 Student Design Competitions:

TC-2 (Microwave Acoustics) 
Title: Carrier Aggregation BAW Quadplexer Module

Description: Microwave acoustic filters (SAW, BAW) are the prevailing filter technology in RF frontends of mobile handsets, due to their compactness, low price and high selectivity. In order to keep up with the demand for multiplexers, engineers are usually required to combine (off-the-shelf) SAW/BAW components for a multiplex filter. In this competition, our sponsor Qorvo will provide the contestants with appropriate BAW components. The students are required to design and assemble a band 3/7 quadplexer module. The measurements will be taken at the IMS’18.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Holger

TC-5 (Microwave High-Power Techniques) 
Title: 14th High Efficiency Power Amplifier Student Design Competition

Description: Design of a microwave power amplifier having both highest efficiency and linearity.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Jim KomiakKamal Samanta 

TC-6 (Microwave and Millimeter-wave Integrated Circuits), TC-14 (Microwave Low Noise Techniques), TC-16 (Microwave Systems) and TC-20 (Wireless Communications)
Title: Wide bandwidth Mobile Com Receiver Module

Description: This project will introduce students to wide bandwidth  (200 MHz around the center frequency) wireless technology envisioned for beyond 5G mobile com in the frequency range from 1 GHz to 5 GHz. Due to the stringent bandwidth requirements, receivers are needed, which provided excellent reception and linearity over a very wide bandwidth of up to 200 MHz. Linear and rugged low-noise amplifiers are further needed to achieve fast and reliable information transfer while maintaining good ruggedness and linearity even in harsh environments over a wide frequency range from 1 GHz and 5 GHz through MOBCOM, WIFI, and Bluetooth. The students are to design a broadband device which, other than in previous years, will have to answer the challenge of providing very broad services AND bandwidth. The devices will be collected at the beginning of the competition. Two frequencies from the range (1 GHz, 2 GHz, 3 GHz, 4 GHz, 5 GHz) will be selected by throwing a dice (with the result leading to 2 = 2 GHz, 3= 3 GHz, etc.) at the beginning of the competition for the whole competition and all participants. At these two frequencies a figure of merit will be measured for the submitted modules and a FOM calculated. The amplifiers must be ready to answer any of these frequencies without further adjustments. This approach shall provide an insight into the upcoming statistical and parallel use approach to the spectrum usage. Further, harsh environments may be your daily life with your cell phone, e.g., once you try to achieve a maximum data rate communication while traveling in your car or the train. Broadband low-noise operation is needed in a multi-standard environment which we all require with our advanced cell phones. The competition is meant to raise your awareness about the complexity and the non-deterministic nature of the topic and the connections on the receiver end for multistandard and multiband applications.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Rüdiger Quay, Nils Pohl, and Roger Kaul 

TC-7 (Microwave and Millimeter-wave Solid State Devices) with endorsement/support of TC-6 (Microwave and Millimeter-wave Integrated Circuits)
Title: 16 QAM Radio Design

Description: The competitors are required to design, construct, measure, and demonstrate a 16 QAM wireless transmitter at 950 MHz.  The participants will design a Wilkinson combiner, a branchline coupler, a double balanced mixer, a power amplifier and an antenna prior to arriving at IMS. Files from their designs will be sent to the contest contact prior to the conference for assistance in fabrication. During the contest at IMS, the students will fabricate their designs and test each component, and then their complete radio. A 16QAM baseband I and Q signal will be provided as well as a 10 dBm 950 MHz LO. Students will be able to adjust the LO and the amplitude of the baseband signal to optimize their radio’s performance, including any "tricks" they can conceive of onsite. The performance metric will be received power/error vector magnitude, the highest number is the winner. For more information please visit 

Competition Instructions

Contact: David S. Ricketts

TC-8: (Filters and Passive Components)
Title: Reconfigurable Bandpass Filter Design

Description: Tunable bandpass filters with very wide center frequency tuning ranges have long been sought as one of the most desirable components for reconfigurable radios. However, quick and accurate control of these filters over varying environmental conditions has proven to be one of the challenges that have limited practical adoption relative to their promising capabilities. Filters with a static center frequency and reconfigurable response shape can be highly valuable to systems that experience dynamic interference while being simpler to control. This competition will explore the design of such a filter.  Entries will be scored based on passband insertion loss (passive filters) or noise figure (active filters) at specified frequencies, stopband attenuation at specified frequencies, and physical size.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Eric NaglichSanghoon Shin 

TC-10 (Biological Effects and Medical Applications) is the main sponsor, TC-20 (Wireless Communications) is co-sponsor.
Title: High-Sensitivity Fast-Response Motion Sensing Radar

Description: A high sensitivity fast-response low-power radar sensor design competition is open to all students registered at an educational institution. Competitors are required to design, fabricate, and demonstrate a high sensitivity (as measured by the motion amplitude that can be detected), fast-response, low-power portable mono-static radar. This project will introduce students to modern radar motion sensors. The winner will be judged considering a figure of merit (FOM) determined from the sensitivity, the response time, the dc power consumption, and the weight of the radar sensor.

Competition Instructions

Contact: José María Muñoz Ferreras, Fu-Kang WangChung-Tse Michael Wu and Olga Boric-Lubecke

TC-15 (Microwave Field Theory)
Title: Elucidating the Physics of Microwaves through Experimental and Software-Based Demonstrations

Description: This design competition focuses on the design of a powerful demonstration that shows a physical picture and a good intuitive understanding of field and wave phenomena by means of a physical experiment or numerical simulation.  A key concept in microwave field theory and its connection to practical applications should be established.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Costas Sarris  

TC-17 (HF/VHF/UHF Technology) 
Title: High-Efficiency Power Amplifier for 475 kHz

Description: Student(s) will design an amplifier and driver to produce 10 W at 475 kHz from a 12-V supply.  This design will use a single IRF510 power MOSFET so that cost will not be an impediment to entry.  The winning design will have the highest overall efficiency. (Notes - The resultant design should be useable on the new 630-meter amateur band, and will produce about 50 W when operated from a higher supply voltage.  The low operating frequency necessitates the use of discrete components, making this design quite different from the usual 1+ GHz of the MTT-5 PA-design contest. Inclusion of the driver presents the student with a number of interesting design trade-offs.

Contact: Frederick H. Raab

TC-22 (Signal Generation and Frequency Conversion)
Title: High Dynamic Range Mixer.

Description: This year’s contest will focus on obtaining wide dynamic range performance in a balanced passive mixer. The mixer must down convert the 9 - 11 GHz frequency band using a 12 GHz local oscillator (LO) to the 2 - 4 GHz intermediate frequency (IF) band. The mixer can be in any technology (chip and wire, surface mount, MMIC, etc) and can use any type of nonlinear device (FET, BJT, diode), low voltage / current bias to gate or base is allowed. Small size is desirable. Additional specifications and a figure of merit (FOM) that will determine the contest winners is given in the detailed rules. A mixer design entered into a previous IMS High Dynamic Range Mixer student design contest will not be considered.

Contact: Edmar CamargoBert Henderson

TC-22 (Signal Generation and Frequency Conversion) with TC-14 (Microwave Low Noise Techniques), TC-17 (HF/VHF/UHF Technology) and TC-20 (Wireless Communications) 
Title: Tunable Low Phase Noise X-Band (8-12 GHz) Voltage Controlled Oscillator.

Description: This contest will involve the design of a tunable oscillator for applications in 5th generation communication systems. The oscillator will be voltage controlled and tunable over X-Band (8-12 GHz), and have low phase noise. The performance of the oscillator will be based on the FOM (Figure of Merit) parameters as measured with a phase noise analyzer. The oscillator with the best calculated FOM will be the winner of the competition.  In the situation where contestants obtain the same figure of merit (FOM), the one with the lowest spot phase noise at 10 kHz offset will be selected as winner.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Ajay Poddar, Bert Henderson

TC-24: (RFID Technologies)
Title: Backscatter Radio

Description: This competition requires participants to design, fabricate and test a backscatter radio, which is a fundamental block of Ultra-High-Frequency (UHF) Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) transponders. In an RFID system the reader transmits a continuous wave signal, while the transponder reflects the signal and introduces a modulation, so as to convey its information. The prototype under test should consist of a binary backscatter modulator (i.e., based on binary amplitude shift keying, BASK, or binary shift keying, BPSK) that operates on 915 MHz.

Competition Instructions

Contacts: Valentina Palazzi, Thomas Ußmüller and John Kimionis 

TC-26 (Wireless Energy Transfer and Conversion) is the organizer with MTT-10 (Biological Effects and Medical Applications) and TC-20 (Wireless Communications) co-sponsors.
Title: Wearable Microwave Energy Harvesting

Description: Competitors are required to design, construct, measure, and demonstrate a wrist wireless energy harvester (WEH) at 2.45 GHz capable of driving a small electronic device.  This project will introduce students to the concept and implementation of efficient and wearable wireless energy harvesters.  The efficiency of the harvester when worn on the wrist and the novelty of the design will be the leading criteria in selecting the winning design.

Competition Instructions

Contact: Simon Humour, Diego Masotti

Students interested participating in one of the above SDCs should contact the contest organizers directly with questions about a specific SDCs, and for detailed rules and application instructions.

A detailed contest schedule for 12 June 2018 will be posted in March 2018.