The Challenge of Innovation
Amid stacks of transistors, looping knots of wires, and the hum of imagination at work, IPFW Professor of Electrical Engineering Abdullah Eroglu is reaching for a worthy goal: to innovate his field.
Gaining a leading edge in electrical engineering has never been so critical, when the smallest discovery could spark industry-changing advancements in telecommunications, informatics, medical imaging, and consumer electronics.
Innovation is happening, and it’s happening faster every year.
“Part of the challenge in this field for everyone is to be innovative,” Eroglu says. “What we need to do is come up with a method that is more efficient.”
More than the Sum of Its Parts
Eroglu’s research is grounded in applied electromagnetics, from component-level to system-level design. In particular, he is interested in how to integrate components into a better system—in other words, how to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.
As part of an applied electromagnetics research group, Eroglu established a research laboratory on campus, used to study applied electromagnetics in depth and provide access to hands-on experiential learning to engineering students.
“In that laboratory, we’re designing components that you’re using in your cell phones, television equipment, and any [other] electronic equipment, “he explains. “You’re seeing inductors, load capacitors, combiners.”
It is here that Eroglu, his fellow researchers, and his students create, design, and test new patented prototypes.
Handing Off the Tools
“I think one of the great advantages we have [at IPFW] is the small classroom environment, because [it] helps us engage students one-to-one,” says Eroglu. “That helps us to know our students better.”
Outfitting his engineering students with the tools they need to be successful in the industry is a primary concern for Eroglu. Because electrical engineering can be such a tactile, hands-on field, he focuses on applied, project-based teaching to give his students real experience before they graduate.
“I actually assign projects,” he says. “So I teach the theory in the class, and then I assign them the project that will enable them to use some of the analytical skills that they learned. The laboratory is a good tool for them.”
Students then gain experience using simulation tools in Eroglu’s lab, including 2-D and 3-D electromagnetic simulators, nonlinear circuit simulators, and simulators for the parasitics of electronic circuit boards.
Equipped for Success
When Eroglu’s students leave his classroom and laboratory, they are equipped to succeed in a challenging and dynamic industry.
“These companies, especially here, are looking for engineers who are really equipped, who know simulation, how to use these simulation tools to design the components or systems,” Eroglu explains.
Along with technical know-how, many of Eroglu’s students graduate with a patent to their name from their time working with their professor on innovations in the laboratory—certainly a jolt to their résumé.
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