Faculty Profile

Gary R Swenson

Gary R Swenson
Gary R Swenson

Primary Research Area

  • Remote Sensing and Space Science


  • Ph.D. Aeronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1975

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Teaching Statement

The design experiences for Seniors in EE and Interdisciplinary in the College have continued to be a focus of my interest in maintaining a high standard of expectation and experiences for our students. Management of the support from selected capable and energetic Teaching Assistants, laboratory resources, communication tools (web), and staff are all important aspects to maintain the high standards for these courses, including ECE445 and ENG491. The design process for the students is one of truly engaging a problem and ￿owning￿ it. Owning a problem includes the responsibility to make most all of the decisions associated with it. In the teaching process to students, we are careful to make sure we, as instructors, don￿t take ownership. You won￿t hear us say ￿do it this way￿, rather we might say ￿￿have you thought about this and that?￿ This is an important part of the learning process. We are privileged at the U of I, ECE department to have very capable students, eager to learn.

￿Systems￿ engineering is a word which has been bantered around, but to me it distinguishes a problem of scale from an individual, board level project such as individuals or small teams implement in ECE445, to a more complex problem, often requiring interdisciplinary engineering groups to accomplish. ECE491, Interdisciplinary Design, is a course where we exercise these ￿team projects￿. The formality of interfacing, mechanically and electrically takes a new dimension of importance, especially where designs are carried on for multiple groups to work on to completion. Companies take on special design training programs to introduce entry level engineers. Many of the large engineering companies, including aerospace and power generation/distribution are examples of engineering concerns where a great deal of attention is placed on ￿systems￿.

As our undergraduates complete their degrees, many will enter graduate education, or work on small or large engineering systems. We strive to provide the breadth of experiences for the large breadth of opportunity.

Research Statement

Current research is the development of upper atmospheric research tools, including lidar, imaging, and interferometry. Application of these tools to measurements of upper atmospheric dynamics and chemistry from ground, aircraft, and spacecraft platforms. Spacecraft investigations of Earth and Mars atmospheres are in development and planning.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Three undergraduates were involved in our Research Group, in the development of new receivers for our Na wind/temperature lidar. The students were Ben Graf, Tony Mangognia, and Ben Krop. Ben Graf and Tony Mangognia are now graduate students. There contributions were outstanding as was the professional engineering problem solving experiences in working with our group. Tony is the lead TA for ECE 445 this semester.

Research Interests

  • Optical Remote Sensing
  • Atmosphere dynamics in the Mesosphere, Lower Thermosphere, with a primary emphasis on Atmospheric Gravity Waves. Remote sensing techniques using resonant and Raleigh lidar as well as passive remote sensing atmospheric emissions.
  • Remote sensing of the atmosphere from ground based, aircraft, and spacecraft using optical methods. Also, space environment issues with a particular emphasis on spacecraft glows.

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Nikoukar, R., G. Swenson, A. Z. Liu, and F. Kamalabadi, [2007], On the variability of the mesosphere OH emission profiles, J. Geophys. Res., Vol 112, doi:10.1029/2007JD008601.