Willie Nel is Principal Radar Systems Engineer at Defence Peace, Safety and Security (DPSS) at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria.
As such, his responsibilities include being research leader of the Radar Non-Cooperative Target Recognition (NCTR) research program, research manager of the Parliamentary Grant Projects, and lead systems engineer for Radar Signal Processor development of AwareRad radar, a joint project between DPSS CSIR and KACST.
He has been closely involved in research collaboration with the Radar Remote Sensing Group (RRSG) at the University of Cape Town in the fields of SAR, ISAR and other radar related fields since 2000. During this time, he was technical coordinator of the ‘Project Ledger’ Research Collaboration with postgraduate students in the RRSG, defining several MSc research topics and jointly publishing some papers with UCT RRSG. He was involved as part of the CSIR/UCT team that set up the UCT Masters in Radar from its inception, and still serves on the steering group for the programme.
In 2005, he has played an active role in pursuing options for collaboration with European and US researchers in the fields of radar, as well as expanding research collaboration in the radar field within South Africa. He has facilitated several short courses to be presented in South Africa, on various topics by international experts, such as those presented by University College London (UCL), the French aerospace laboratory ONERA, Medavis Consulting in the US, and the University of Pisa in Italy, on various topics in the field of radar, ranging from MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) to modern radar acquisition strategies. He also represents the CSIR as a member of SARIG (South African Radar Interest Group).
He has published many papers in the field of radar target recognition, high resolution radar and radar imaging, and serves on the technical committee of several of the radar conferences in the international radar conference series. He also plays an active role as reviewer for many journals, including the IEEE GRSL (Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters), IET RSN (Radar, Sonar and Navigation), IEEE PAM, IEEE Signal Processing Letters, and others.
His latest research focus has been on the area of Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar image formation and target classification. In this area, he recently completed a sabbatical at the University of Pisa (2011), focusing on ISAR imaging of maritime vessels with complex motion together with Dr Marto Martorella.