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Electrical engineering, math major shoots for the stars

Tyler DoironFrom her time in the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (TALH) program at Lamar University, electrical engineering and mathematics major Tyler Doiron knew she wanted to be involved in the space industry.

“My dream is to work for NASA,” Doiron said. “Space programs allow us to learn more about our universe. The work they’re doing is important, and I love it.”

The Buna resident said that her TALH experience exposed her to different perspectives, helping her discover her passion.

“I was given the opportunity to explore academic areas in a depth that only TALH could reach,” she said. “I was able to get that inspiration and discover what really intrigued me at a younger age.”

After completing the two-year TALH program, one of only two residential programs in Texas that gives high school upperclassmen the opportunity to start college early, Doiron chose to continue her undergraduate education at Lamar, attributing her decision to the university’s sense of community.

“I know almost everybody at Lamar,” she said. “I can’t walk somewhere without seeing someone I know, and I love that. I’ve had the same people in my electrical engineering classes for two years, and now we’re just like a big family.”

Wanting to gain practical experience, Doiron began participating in undergraduate research with Ruhai Wang, electrical engineering professor, in the area of space Internet. 

“I became involved with Dr. Wang and his research team and started learning about what they were doing,” she said. “Last year, I worked with the team on their technical paper, ‘Memory Dynamics and Transmission Performance of Bundle Protocol (BP) in Deep-Space Communications,’ published by IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications.

 “Being a co-author was a huge part of learning about the research. Also I was able to present what we found in the paper at the 2015 Lamar Research Expo which helped me become more familiar with our research.”

While conducting research with Wang, Doiron was presented with the opportunity to intern under Scott Burleigh, a principal engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a federally funded research and development center managed by the California Institute of Technology for NASA. Scott Burleigh is an internationally recognized pioneer of the development of space networking technologies used for NASA’s deep space and interplanetary missions.

“Scott Burleigh and Dr. Wang are long-term research collaborators, so Dr. Wang asked him if I could go to JPL and do research with him. Dr. Wang wanted me to continue his research and see it at a different level, from a developmental rather than from an experimental perspective.”

Tyler Doiron at JPLThe summer internship, which was supported by Lamar University’s Presidential Faculty Fellowship that Wang was awarded last year, helped Doiron realize what she wanted to do with her degree.

“Lamar University's support enriched my academic experience incredibly, and for that, I am very grateful,” she said. “I realized that I like studying signal processing, which is figuring out how to analyze and manipulate the data you have. I would like to apply it to communications. As we venture out deeper into space, the reliability of our communications will become more relevant.”

Learning from her computer science major friends and observing her office mate’s work at JPL inspired her, Doiron said.

“My friends taught me about computer science, making me realize that I am fascinated by the workings of software as opposed to hardware implementations,” she said. “Then my office mate was in the Information Processing Group at JPL. Everyday I would inquire about his work, and one day it clicked that this is what I want to do.”

While at JPL, Doiron and her supervisor worked on a project titled, “Scalability of Delay-Tolerant Networking (DTN).”

“DTN is a networking technique used to optimize communications that are in stressed environments such as space,” she said. “Basically, we were trying to figure out how to make the DTN protocols work for growing networks. Part of what I did was study both out-of-date and current Internet protocols and determine exactly how they addressed the issue of scalability.”

Since returning from her internship, Doiron has used her summer experience to expound on the collaborated research at Lamar.     

“Now that I have a little more hands-on experience, we are building a test bed to run experiments to further study the behavior of the DTN protocols,” she said. “We will use the software to run experiments which will lead us to the best way to configure the DTN protocol settings.”

A Mirabeau scholar, Doiron is also a Reaud Honors College student, College of Engineering Ambassador, vice president of Lamar’s chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and member of Lamar’s Delta-Beta Chapter of the Eta Kappa Nu National Electrical Engineering Honor Society.

 “Being involved in these organizations has been great for networking on a peer and professional level,” she said.

After graduating, Doiron plans to enter into the industry to solidify her professional goals and then pursue her doctorate.

Doiron said Lamar has taught her about lifelong learning, a skill that has shaped her educational foundation.

“Lamar has given me enough experience to enter in the workforce and continue my education,” she said. “I’ve learned the importance of independent learning as well as playing an active role in the community. Most importantly, I’ve learned to keep striving for what I’m passionate about.”