Edmonton—An ECE student has been awarded the most prestigious graduate award given out by the University of Alberta.
Gayan Amarasuriya received the lzaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship earlier this summer — an award valued at $35,000 and given to doctoral students likely to contribute to the advancement of learning or to win distinction in their profession. Only about twelve are awarded each year.
Amarasuriya is in his fourth year of a PhD program and is researching wireless communications. Prior to coming to the University of Alberta, he completed undergraduate studies at the University of Moratuwa in his native Sri Lanka. After graduating, Amarasuirya worked in the wireless industry for two years before deciding to pursue a graduate degree.
Although he was also accepted to a school in the UK, he said coming the U of A was an easy decision.
"The U of A is world renowned in wireless communications. There's just more facilities and I felt like I would be getting the best possible support here."
Amarasuirya's current research involves investigating new transmission strategies for wireless networks. Because data rates have increased so much in the past decade, networks need to be more reliable, and the traditional ways of using these networks isn't sufficient.
"We're looking at ways to have distributed wireless terminals act cooperatively," he explained. "Some terminals sacrifice resources to improve the overall stability of the signal. We end up with better tradeoffs between data rates, coverage, reliability, and data rates."
As for the Killam scholarship, Amarasuriya was honoured to be recognized, but was quick to point out the importance of the support he receives from his two supervisors: Dr. Chintha Tellambura and Dr. Masoud Ardakani.
"I get to do a lot of collaboration with them, and they bring out the best in me. Plus having two of them is twice as demanding."