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Professor plays wireless defense at Ohio State

Emre KoksalEmre Koksal, PhD, has teamed up with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) to increase the accuracy and security of wireless vehicular communication.

Koksal came to The Ohio State University as an assistant professor in 2006, and he has been an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) since 2013. Prior to coming to Ohio State, he obtained his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and his S.M. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At CAR, his work focuses on vehicular communication and cybersecurity.

“Arguably one of the most important enablers of intelligent and autonomous transportation systems is connectedness,” Koksal said. “Therefore, we need to build reliable and scalable wireless communication systems for vehicular networks.”

Koksal contributes to vehicle connectedness through CAR consortium projects. He has completed one project called “Replacing Cables: Silent Multi Audio and Data Broadcasting without Wireless RF Transmissions” which has since been turned into an IEEE-award-winning mobile application. “Existing wireless technologies are based on transmission of radio frequency signals, opening up possibilities for a variety of attacks external to the vehicle,” he said. “Our technology uses low-power acoustic signals transmitted over vehicle speakers, making it more secure against external attacks, while reducing the amount of cabling within the vehicle.”

He is currently working on a project titled “Beyond PKI: Enhanced Cybersecurity via MIMO.” This ongoing project studies ways to make computer systems in vehicles more secure against cyberattacks and false information. One such safeguard is through signal authentication via multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas. Multiple antennas at both the receiver and transmitter increase the speed and accuracy of the data being transferred. The project also proposes using MIMO to verify location accuracy in places like highways where a vehicle would need to respond in milliseconds to changes in traffic conditions.

When asked about his favorite part of his job, Koksal said, “Intellectual meetings with colleagues and students. These brainstorming sessions keep me motivated about learning and building.”

As an associate professor, Koksal appreciates motivated students who have a desire to understand how things work. He especially recommends studying ECE because it “provides an excellent balance between mathematics and physical sciences,” said Koksal. “It also gives the students the skills of an engineer to integrate the tools they have in their arsenal to understand how systems are supposed to be built to achieve a high performance. Therefore, no matter what the student wants to do in his life, ECE provides the necessary skills for them to be successful.”

His advice for aspiring engineers is to “[m]ake sure that you do it because you have the desire to learn and build, not because the starting salaries are better than other comparable career paths.”

When he isn’t researching wireless connectedness and cybersecurity, Koksal enjoys watching and playing team sports, especially basketball. He played basketball in high school and has followed professional games closely ever since. He particularly likes cheering on the New England Patriots during NFL football games and the Los Angeles Lakers during basketball season.