8 March 2020

Celebrating International Women's Day

To mark International Women's Day on the 8th March 2020 Electronic and Electrical Engineer, Professor Chu, shares her career path and what it means to her having been awarded a Professorship in the Communications Research Group in the Department.

Headshot of Professor Xiaoli Chu
Area of specialism: Wireless communications networks
What sparked your interest of engineering and then specifically EEE?
"Radio and television programs accompanied me growing up. I was fascinated by the broadcasting technologies behind them. This sparked my interest in information and communications technologies."
When did you come to Sheffield and why did you choose Sheffield?
"I joined the EEE Department at the University of Sheffield as a lecturer in May 2012. I accepted the job offer mainly because the interview went well and I got to meet with many of the EEE academic staff members during and after the interview and found that the EEE Department did a good job of supporting a diverse environment". 
What is your area of expertise and why does this interest you?
"My research aims to enable wireless communication networks to connect people and things whenever, wherever and however they want to or need to. I have been pursuing this by tackling three major open challenges in the area of wireless communications: (1) how to plan and optimise heterogeneous cellular networks for complex and varying environments, (2) how to optimally allocate limited radio resources to meet increasingly diverse service requirements, and (3) how to enable efficient and fair unlicensed-spectrum sharing between cellular and Wi-Fi networks to mitigate the shortage of licensed spectrum.    
This research area interests me because there are always new opportunities to explore for further improving the performance and efficiency of wireless communication systems." 
What has been your career highlight to date?
"As the lead author/editor, I published the book “Heterogeneous Cellular Networks: Theory, Simulation and Deployment” with Cambridge University Press in 2013. This book provides a complete and thorough exposition of key technologies in the emerging paradigm of heterogeneous cellular networks and has been selected in the IEEE Communications Society's Best Readings.  Follow this link to view it."
How has becoming a professor made you feel?
"Becoming a Professor is exciting, especially from the perspective of better representing the number of female students and academic/research staff members in the department. Yet there is still a long way to go to bring more women into Engineering teaching and learning in higher education. I will put myself forward to take on more responsibility to further improve the department's gender diversity and equity." 
What role do you think EEE will take in the future if technology?
"Electronic and Electrical Engineering covers a broad range of subfields. I work in the subfield of Wireless Communications. We are on the cusp of entering a new era of wireless connectivity, where increasingly more people, machines, and things are being connected to automate and digitise traditional services. This has caused not only a 1000x growth in the wireless data rate demand but also a disruptive increase in diverse wireless service requirements. In the evolution toward the 4th industrial revolution (a.k.a., Industry 4.0) and the emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), wireless networks will become increasingly critical for enterprises, especially in vertical industries, e.g., transport, utilities, manufacturing, and logistics, because wireless connectivity is essential to the digital transformation of industrial processes and can unleash exceptional productivity benefits"
What advice would you give to female students considering this as a career?
"My advice for female engineering students or prospective students would be to not be afraid to ask questions or seek advice. While it is easy to talk about, it is often hard for many of us to ask questions or ask for advice. "

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