R + D – Mahdi Saleh

PhD (expected ’20)

Electrical and Computer Engineering

by MainGate Staff

Spring/Summer 2020

Life before his PhD: I grew up in Beirut and spent my summer vacations in southern Lebanon, where I enjoyed being close to nature and wildlife. I have always loved science and was curious about how everything works. I earned BE and ME degrees in computer and communication engineering from the Islamic University of Lebanon (IUL) in 2012 and 2015. During my master’s studies, I worked with the National Center for Remote Sensing to develop an automated system for measuring snow-covered regions using satellite-based remote sensing products. After graduation, I joined AUB’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a research assistant and was involved in designing agricultural wireless sensing nodes for assisting in precision farming applications.

What matters most: Population growth leads to an expansion in industrialization, urbanization, and energy production, raising concerns regarding the availability of natural resources and the associated environmental impact. Sensing instruments and measurement systems are essential tools to study, monitor, and mitigate the effects these sectors have on our environment and our lives.

Research: My research focuses on electrical sensing and tomographic imaging techniques. For the past few years, I have been working on developing sensing systems to measure the thickness of oil films floating on the water surface during oil spills. This project, funded by the US Department of the Interior, aims to enhance the efficiency of current oil cleanup methods. The results of the project have been published in a journal article and several conference papers. In addition, a US patent application describing the sensor was published in 2019. We are now using the technology to enhance sensors measuring moisture. I received the top award in IFI’s 2018 Climate Change Student Competition for this project.  I’m currently working under the supervision of Dr. Imad H. Elhajj and Dr. Daniel Asmar on optimizing the design of the oil sensing system and developing custom algorithms to enhance its performance under dynamic and harsh operational conditions.

10 am Tuesday, 10 am Saturday: On Tuesday morning, I am probably at AUB working on my PhD thesis. On Saturdays, I try to spend time reading and with my family.

Most admires: I admire great scientists whose contributions changed our view of the world. I especially admire scientists who challenged traditional scientific thinking and used imagination and critical thinking to realize new scientific facts.

Why this topic interests him:
Instrumentation and measurement are crucial for answering scientific questions. I also believe that advances in sensing and instrumentation technology will enable us to address previously unconsidered topics. As an engineer with a deep interest in science, I am passionate about developing and improving sensing and measurement instruments which will improve our lives.