Making waves in the world

NASA senior research scientist and principal investigator and University of New Brunswick graduate Attila Komjathy is using GPS for an entirely new application, which can track and monitor tsunamis.

Attila Komjathy is using GPS for an entirely new application, which can track and monitor tsunamis.

The early days of his dissertation research at UNB, specifically working with Professor Richard B. Langley, is what first interested Komjathy in the research of different uses for GPS.

“My ultimate goal is to use GPS technology to detect ionospheric signatures caused by tsunamis in real time so that people in affected areas may be alerted even before the tsunami reaches populated areas,” says Komjathy.

This technology can be immensely beneficial to coastal communities in the path of the tsunami, he says.

Hungary for knowledge

After moving from Hungary, Komjathy says he chose UNB for his Doctor of Philosophy work because of the reputation of its geodesy and geomatics engineering program and its generous graduate student scholarships.

“Without the significant support of Prof. Langley, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council  (Canada’s granting agency for university research) and UNB, I would not be conducting this interview today.”

Langley worked with Komjathy on several projects such as helping to introduce GPS to the aviation community in Canada, in addition to advising him on his PhD dissertation. He says Komjathy was a very dedicated and talented student.

“Some students are willing to forego partying every night because they see the work as more fun or leading to eventual career opportunities they might not have if they don’t put in the time,” says Langley. “Attila was one of those guys. He eventually married and had children, so there were home pressures. But to be able to balance home pressures and research work at the same time, and do it successfully, that’s also an indication that this guy is going to be a star, he is going to work out.”

Komjathy credits UNB and Prof. Langley for helping him achieve success.

“UNB’s great facilities, student life, nurturing atmosphere, and learning environment all contributed tremendously to achieve something significant in my professional life. In addition, the breadth and quality of research conducted by Prof. Langley and his group always amazed and inspired me to reach higher,” says Komjathy.

Pushing the envelope

In addition to his strong work ethic, past accomplishments and current research, Komjathy was the recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence in Graduate Studies.

“It was the greatest honour that I ever received in my research career,” he says. “Receiving the medal from Her Honour, Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, the then Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick on behalf of the Governor General has been one of the most satisfying experiences for me. The beautiful certificate and gold medal are part of my most treasured memories at UNB.”

With the variety of new satellite systems being developed by Europe, China and Japan, Komjathy says he will continue to be inspired to come up with innovative ideas.

“The next decade will be about designing even more complex global navigation satellite system applications that will be expected to help us in our daily lives,” he says. “I look forward to continue pushing the envelope further. “

Contributed by Bronte’ James, UNB Communications and Marketing. Made possible by UNB Associated Alumni

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