May 20, 2024

ASE Ph.D. student Wenkai Qin in front of ASE Building

Wenkai Qin, a Ph.D. aerospace engineering graduate student, is the recipient of the highly competitive National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship for 2024. Qin performs research in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics under the guidance of professor Todd Humphreys in the UT Radionavigation Laboratory.

Learn more about Qin’s research and his future plans in this brief Q&A: 

Tell us about your research.

Although navigation satellites do revolve around the Earth, the reality is, our world revolves around navigation satellites. Humans rely on navigation satellites for everything from daily driving needs to timekeeping for stock markets and precise military operations. However, recent events have unfortunately confirmed long-term worries about its vulnerability to spoofing and jamming, calling for a new generation of navigation satellites. New Low Earth orbit mega-constellations like Starlink and OneWeb are naturally robust to many types of attacks and can offer impressive performance upgrades as well, making them a uniquely strong contender for the next generation of navigation satellites. My research aims to develop satellite-based navigation solutions to protect the current state of international navigation.

Why does this work matter?

With some hope, this work will assure your airplane continues to land in the rain, and self-driving cars remain steady at the center of the road.

 What are your plans after graduation?

Undecided! My personal passion is launch-vehicle design, but I have always loved to teach and help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. I hope that the answer becomes more clear as I work towards my dissertation.