Message to Group Members



QUICK LINKS:  To prospective students & visiting scholars  |  To new members  |   Advice ... 


  • Undergraduate and graduate research projects in wireless-networked cyber-physical systems are available. If interested, please contact Prof. Hongwei Zhang at "firstname (at) iastate (dot) edu".


To Prospective Students & Visiting Scholars: [top]

Our research interests lie in the theory and practice of wireless networked cyber-physical-human systems, with a special focus on the modeling, algorithmic, and systems issues in wireless sensing and control networks as well as their applications in augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), connected and automated vehicles, smart grid, Industry 4.0, smart agriculture, and IoT as well as cyber-physical-human systems in general
. Before contacting me, please check out the following information that may clarify some questions you have:

  • By focusing on high-quality research, and by collaborating with other research groups in academia and industry, our research program provides students with access to world-class facilities, real-world experience, and ample opportunities of contributing to research and innovation.


As a 220+ acre development and having over 70 tenants employing over 1,700 people, the ISU Research Park hosts a vibrant startup community as well as R&D branches of major companies such as John Deere. In addition, many other established and start-up companies (e.g., Rockwell-Collins) are within 100 miles from ISU campus and are leaders in wireless communication and networking, AR/VR and control systems, and their applications in various domains.

Being in a college town while having the convenience and energy of larger cities, you will also have a great life experience on campus here at Ames, Iowa. Ames, Iowa has recently been voted as one of the best college towns in the nation. State of Iowa was also ranked as the #1 State in US in 2018 by US News, and #1 State for Jobs in US by MarketWatch.

Interested in learning more about ISU? Facts | Ranking | AAU  |  Campus Tour

  • If you are a student but have not joined ISU yet, please take a moment to check out information on how to apply for graduate admission.   
  • Presently, I may only fund Ph.D. students who are dedicated to high quality research. Preference will be given to students who have strong academic background (in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or related disciplines such as mathematics and statistics), are self-motivated and goal-oriented, and can take initiative in executing research visions. Experience in systems building, mathematical modeling, and/or research will be a plus. Funded students will be supported in various forms, such as Fellowship, Graduate Research Assistantship, or Graduate Teaching Assistantship.

I will be happy to work with undergraduate and Master students who have strong systems building capabilities and will enjoy the challenges and excitement of conducting game-changing research. If you are an undergraduate student, you may consider checking out ISU Undergraduate Research Program and the McNair Program.  

I will also be happy to work with visiting scholars who have strong research records in wireless networks, sensor networks, mobile computing, embedded systems, cyber-physical-human systems, or related fields. If you are applying for a visiting scholar position, please check out relevant informaiton specified here.

  • Please visit my website to check out my research and publications. If you are interested in working with me as a student, I would encourage you to take my courses, to participate in my research meetings, and/or to conduct research projects with me (of course, after you join ISU).

If you are a Ph.D. student, I expect you to not only have strong systems building skills, but also to have solid background in mathematical modeling and analysis (as evidenced, for instance, by your solution to this open-ended modeling problem).

  • Given the high volume of inquiries, I may not be able to respond to every one of them.

Thanks and best wishes. 


[A mathematical modeling problem] Faster QuickPass System

"QuickPass" systems are increasingly appearing to reduce people's time waiting in line, whether it is at tollbooths, amusement parks, or elsewhere. Consider the design of a QuickPass system for an amusement park. The amusement park has experimented by offering QuickPasses for several popular rides as a test. The idea is that for certain popular rides you can go to a kiosk near that ride and insert your daily park entrance ticket, and out will come a slip that states that you can return to that ride at a specific time later. For example, you insert your daily park entrance ticket at 1:15 pm, and the QuickPass states that you can come back between 3:30 and 4:30 pm when you can use your slip to enter a second, and presumably much shorter, line that will get you to the ride faster. To prevent people from obtaining QuickPasses for several rides at once, the QuickPass machines allow you to have only one active QuickPass at a time.

You have been hired as one of several competing consultants to improve the operation of QuickPass. Customers have been complaining about some anomalies in the test system.  For example, customers observed that in one instance QuickPasses were being offered for a return time as long as 4 hours later. A short time later on the same ride, the QuickPasses were given for times only an hour or so later. In some instances, the lines for people with Quickpasses are nearly as long and slow as the regular lines.

The problem then is to propose and test schemes for issuing QuickPasses in order to increase people's enjoyment of the amusement park. Part of the problem is to determine what criteria to use in evaluating alternative schemes. Include in your report a non-technical summary for amusement park executives who must choose between alternatives from competing consultants.  [back]

Acknowledgment: the above problem is extracted from the 2004 Mathematical Contest in Modeling organized by The Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications.

To New Members [top]

If you are a new member of our research group, please find below some information that will help jump-start your research: 

  • Selected publications of our own research group:
Please consider reading Selected Publications of the DNC Research Group. These articles will help you understand our unique research insight which will be a foundation for venturing into new problem space. More information about our group can be found here.

Wireless testbeds: Powder  |  COSMOS  |  AERPAW 

Getting Started with Matlab manual from The MathWorks Inc.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White  (strongly recommended book on writing; learn and practice the suggestions from the book ASAP!)

Academic writing using LaTex: 
  • Books of interest:
    • Anurag Kumar, D. Manjunath, Joy Kuri, Wireless Networking, Morgan Kaufmann, 2008. (A must read if you have not systematically studied wireless communication/networking before.)
    • Raj Jain, The Art of Computer Systems Performance Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, INC.
    • Anurag Kumar, D. Manjunath, Joy Kuri, Communication Networking: An Analytical Approach, Morgan Kaufmann, 2004.
    • Deepankar Medhi et al., Network routing: algorithms, protocols, and architectures, Morgan Kaufmann, 2007
  • Helpful coursework:

In addition to classical coursework in Computer Science (computer networks and distributed computing, in particular), coursework or background in probability theory, stochastic processes, operations research, graph theory, real analysis, performance evaluation, communication theory, control theory, and formal methods will be of great help in your research.


Advice ... [top]

  • On (Professional) Life:
  • On research:  
  • On time management & good habits:
    • Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster Inc.  (summary; audio book - short; audio book - long; circle of influence vs. circle of concern)
    • Alan Lakein, How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, SIGNET, 1973.
    • Stephen R. Covey, First Things First.
    • Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. Free Press, 2012
      • The 4 Disciplines are: 1) Focus on the Wildly Important, 2) Act on the Lead Measures, 3) Keep a Compelling Scoreboard, and 4) Create a Cadence of Accountability. 
    • Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of it, Penguin Group, 2012 
    • Richard M. Reis, Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Scientific Careers in Science and Engineering, IEEE Press.