A visit to the Missouri University of Science and Technology
Kenneth Wyatt- August 25, 2012Among the very few colleges and universities that have EMC programs, the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) has one of the best. Professor Emeritus, Dr. Tom Van Doren, had given me a long-time standing invitation to visit and I was finally able to stop by for a day on the way home from the symposium week in Pittsburgh.
Figure 1 - Dr. Tom Van Doren, professor emeritus, hosted my visit to MST.
The Missouri S&T EMC Laboratory (http://emclab.mst.edu) has been on the forefront of EMC research for many years. The lab is comprised of about 50 people, including five tenured faculty, four research professors, several post-doctoral fellows and research engineers and about 35 graduate students.
A few of their sponsors include the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, the U.S. military and the Department of Homeland Security. Most of their funding, though, comes from industry through the Center for Electromagnetic Compatibility. The Center is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative - a consortium of over 20 industry leaders in EMC, signal integrity and power integrity.
MST also has "distance learning" opportunities for EMC engineers already employed. These may be found at: http://dce.mst.edu/emc/. There are three non-credit courses available: EMC Principles (2nd edition) consisting of 36 fifty-minute video lectures by Dr. Todd Hubing, Grounding & Shielding plus Circuit Board Layout consisting of 20 fifty- and sixty-minute lectures by Dr. Tom Van Doren and Signal Integrity for High-Speed Digital Design by Dr. Jun Fan. Taking two of the three courses and passing a written test for each, qualifies the candidate for MST's certificate program.
I had a chance to spend time with several faculty and students. Dr. Van Doren, now semi-retired, but still teaching short courses around the country, hosted my visit. He and Dr. David Pommerenke (serving also as lab manager) showed me around the and highlighted a few key research projects - among them their three-axis PC board scanner, which was in use for a collaborative project for a major manufacture.
Figure 2 - Dr. David Pommerenke serves as lab manager and showed us all around, describing several ongoing research programs.
They're also working for a couple major TV manufacturers on analyzing the noise on the power delivery networks and learning how to minimize it. The lab has also developed a special shielded gasket shielding effectiveness measurement fixture, as shown below.
Figure 3 - Dr. Pommerenke demonstrates their gasket testing fixture which may be adjusted for varying compressions.
Post-grad student, Pratik Maheshwari, showed us the differential pulse injection fixture he's working on, which will selectively inject pulses into specific IC pins, thus allowing more refined analysis of ESD affects in operating circuits. This research is being done for Samsung Electronics.
Figure 4 - Pratik Maheshwari showed us his differential ESD injection system.
I also had a chance to speak with Jun Fan, the lab's newest tenured faculty member. He's heading up studies on signal integrity, as well as studying the effects of receiver desensitization to GPS receivers. With the proliferation of mobile devices with multiple transmitters, this is becoming a very difficult problem to solve. For example, Sony Home Electronics is planning to place GPS receivers with typical sensitivities of -140 dBm in many consumer products. Fast digital circuitry and Wi-Fi transmitters can easily disrupt the incoming GPS signals, which are usually around -100 dBm at the antenna.
Figure 5 - Dr. Jun Fan is their signal integrity specialist and is researching receiver desensing for GPS applications.
He's also helping propose and organize (with several others), a special committee within the IEEE EMC Society on "emerging wireless technologies". His hope is that this will eventually become an official Technical Committee within the Society.
As far as signal integrity, Fan is working with Cisco to connect universities with silicon manufacturers to develop "through-silicon" vias in preparation of multi-layer silicon structures - basically stacking multiple silicon ICs on top of each other.
During lunch, I made a presentation to the lab members and students on how the path to EMC engineering developed and what it was like to be an EMC engineer working for HP and Agilent. I also related how I came to go independent as a consultant and what skills are necessary to be successful in the EMC design field. This was well-received by the students.
Figure 6 - MST's semi-anechoic chamber is used for various research projects.
Following that, I had a chance to speak with a couple other faculty - Drs. Dick DuBroff and Jim Drewniak. Dr. DuBroff's main interest lies in near field probing and how the probe affects the field. He also administers the NSF funding for MST as a part of the special consortium mentioned previously, which includes MST, Clemson University, University of Houston and University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Drewniak has focussed on getting his students practical experience as interns, looking for job opportunities and placing grad students in industry. In fact, I was able to hire one of their postdoctoral students, Kuifeng Hu, as my replacement when I decided to retire from Agilent Technologies in 2008. I could tell that Drewniak and all the others had a real passion for EMC and for their students.
Finally, I spoke with Victor Khilkevich, a graduate of the Moscow Power Engineering Institute and now a research associate professor, who's developing a special probing system for common-mode and voltage measurements. The probe can separate out the common-mode and differential-mode current components. He also presented his research at the recent EMC Symposium in Pittsburgh.
We ended the day with a short presentation by myself on "Cool EMC Tools and Typical EMC Issues". All said, it was a productive day for both myself and the students and faculty. Amazing research is being done there and it's great they are able to collaborate with industry on various leading-edge projects.