Why did you select Penn State for graduate school?
After my sophomore year of college, I took part in a summer NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Electrical Engineering hosted by Penn State. It was this introduction to academic research that sparked my interest in attending graduate school. I enjoyed the summer spent at Penn State, and decided to apply to the Graduate School. The location was conveniently close to my then Fiancée, and I had a good impression of the school in general from my summer research experience. My final decision was made partially with regards to funding – I was offered a research assistantship – but also from meeting some of the professors during my Spring campus visit. I was particularly interested in the Computational Electromagnetics and Antennas Research Laboratory and the work done by Dr. Douglas Werner, who became my research advisor.
What are the advantages to getting a graduate degree in electrical engineering from Penn State?
Penn State is well known for its engineering programs and excellent graduate-level research, which is demonstrated both by publication lists and research funding. Since Penn State has many areas of expertise, there are opportunities for collaborative research between electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, material science, and chemistry. The material science community on campus is particularly well developed, with research on nanoscale devices and access to world-class fabrication tools and equipment.
What degree(s) are you pursuing and when will you graduate?
Originally I was only seeking a master’s degree, but decided to stay for a Ph.D. after my first semester. I received my Master’s degree in the Spring of 2011, and expect to finish my Ph.D. dissertation in the Summer of 2013.
What are your research interests and which faculty members are you working with?
I work under Dr. Douglas Werner in the Computational Electromagnetics and Antennas Research Laboratory. My interests have been broadened since I began by working on many different projects in different subfields of electromagnetics, including metamaterials, frequency-selective surfaces, transformation optics, and the application of these concepts to the design of high-performance antennas. I have also collaborated with the research group of Dr. Theresa Mayer by providing designs and simulation models of nanoscale optical and infrared metamaterials for them to fabricate.
What are your plans after graduation?
A friend and I are planning to start a small engineering company in partnership with our research advisor to polish and market the research software that has been developed in our lab.
Any advice to prospective students?
Get to know the professors in your area of interest. Choosing a research advisor is the next most important decision after choosing to go to Grad School at all, in some ways more important even than which school to attend. Often, the reputation of the professors in their individual sub-fields of engineering will be more important than the reputation of the University or Department at large. Look at lists of publications to get an idea of the primary research topics of your potential advisors. Although you will have the opportunity to interview with several professors if you are accepted to Penn State, most are very happy to correspond with potential students before you apply to answer questions and give you additional information on their research and how it might correspond with your interests.