Back at the Alma Mater! It was great to go back to my old stomping grounds at the University of Houston (UH). While visiting family in Houston during the holidays, I had a chance to squeeze in a visit to the place and people that had an enormous impact on my life. I made it a point to roam the halls of the engineering buildings and reflect on my time at the university. I stopped by the first lecture hall where I first learned how to program in Matlab. I sat in the computer lab where I remembered the feeling the rush to finish numerical programming projects before they were due by midnight through FTP. I walked through the same hallways that my senior design project demonstrated our project to develop a wirelessly tethered luggage cart that would automatically follow the user. While so much changed at the university over the past years I was gone, my memories had not faded.
The time I spent grueling over homeworks and electronics labs had such a big impact on how I think and how I approach problems. Yet, I cannot think of a bigger impact than those brought by the faculty that took a personal interest in my future. The Applied Electromagnetics group (http://ael.egr.uh.edu/) at UH has an EM for Undergraduates program (they call us EMUGS) where Profs. Stuart Long, Donald Wilton, and David Jackson invite students to get involved in their research labs. This was a great experience for me to explore a whole new world that I never thought about pursuing: scientific research. It was during that time that I seriously considering changing career paths and heading towards graduate school. While I was visiting the school, I presented my recent work in applied electromagnetics at UCLA, where I discussed my latest work on antennas for Mars Rovers, Cognitive Radios, and CubeSats. The title of my talk was “Towards a Connected Universe: Antenna Systems for Advanced Spacecraft and Emerging Wireless Services.” I brought in the word “universe” because my work spans wireless services connecting a few feet away (terrestrial systems) to planets away (Mars Rovers). That was followed by a fun tour of the new facilities and buildings at UH with Stuart.