In this episode, our guest is Professor Jiming Song from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) at Iowa State University (ISU). Here, we talk about his research in electromagnetic modeling and testing for 5G electronics and the value of learning these core skills for students. This episode was conceptualized, recorded, edited, and produced by Santosh Pandey from the ECpE Department of Iowa State University. The transcript was prepared and edited by Professor Jiming Song and Santosh Pandey from the ISU ECpE Department. The communications and digital hosting was handled by Kristin Clague from the ISU ECpE Department. The music was provided by Coma-Media from Pixabay (Track Title: Minimal Technology Ambient).
Welcome to our ECPE podcast series, where we talk about exciting activities within our department. I'm your host, Santosh Pandey. Our guest today is Professor Jiming Song from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Iowa State University. Dr. Song, thank you for joining us today. We want to talk about electromagnetics its widespread applications in electronic industry and the value of learning these skills for our students. To start with, could you describe what is electromagnetics and why almost all electronic products we see around us. Electromagnetics is the study of electromagnetic force, a type of interactions between electrically charged particles, static or moving as electrical current. A device used in the electrical static setting, such as a capacitor, may have very little in common with one from optics, such as an optical fiber, but all of these applications are fundamentally described by Maxwell's equations. So what is the role of electromagnetics in designing faster semiconductor devices and wireless communication modules, especially with the 5G revolution. The key is the frequency. Now we see the clock speed of the computer becomes faster and faster. And the wireless communication like 4G 5G have higher and higher frequencies. We need to consider Electromagnetic interaction components and devices in the design and modeling. What are some of the latest technical challenges in this field that researchers are working on? How can our students get involved in solving these challenges? One of them is co-design and simulations using multiphysics modeling: diffusion equation in semiconductor physics and Maxwell's equations in the electromagnetics. The students can take courses in both semiconductor physics and electromagnetics, and do research in these two areas in independent study or senior design projects. So I assume in your field, it is very important to establish collaboration with industry and to keep in pace with what's the latest developments within industry. Yes. So, how do you suggest to establish collaboration with industry? Get to know from your former students or your colleagues in the industry to see what kind of problems they have so you can help them. So what are some of the companies hiring students in this field of electromagnetics, wireless communications, and semiconductors, and what skillsets are these looking for in our students? They are Skyworks, Collins Aerospace, formerly called Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Intel and other companies. The skillsets for this company are radio frequency component design, and electromagnetics modeling and simulations. Going back to the previous question, what are the skillsets that these companies are looking for in our students? Are they looking for the coursework students have done, are they looking for the research projects that they have worked with faculty? For the undergraduate students, probably they pay more attention on the courses that they have taken. And definitely they also look at what kind of senior design projects. For graduate students, they definitely focus on your research work. Could you describe some of your research projects and some of the cherished accomplishments in this field? My core research is computational electromagnetics - how to solve Maxwell's equations faster, accurately, and more efficient using less memory requirement. Our developed code called Fisc has been used in the modeling of scattering and radiation of airplanes and antennas. We also work on modeling of eddy current NDE, ultrasonic NDE, and design of meta-surfaces. What are some of the journals where you publish your research work and what are some of the top conferences in your area? Usually the IEEE conferences. IEEE has many societies. There are several of them related to our area. One is the Antenna and Propagation Society. The second one is Microwave Theory and Techniques, and the third one is Magnetics Society. So these societies also host their individual conferences where researchers actually come and attend? Yes. (Each) society has several conferences. One They also have several others focusing on different parts, such as numerical and measurement. Okay. So here at Iowa state, we have the Center for Non-destructive Evaluation. Could you describe some of the core facilities that are there in the Center? There are several major techniques in the NDE area, ultrasonic NDE being used in the medical imaging, electromagnetic NDE from DC, the capacitance tomography to kHz eddy current NDE to hundreds of MHz ground penetration radar, and Tera Hz imaging, X-rays, thermal imaging, and other techniques. Great. How can our students develop a solid foundation in electromagnetics? In other words, what courses and lab projects can they involve themselves in, within the department? That is a good question. EE311 on electromagnetics is required for all EE students. There are several selective courses in the EM & NDE area, such as EE 411 on transmission lines, EE 414 on the microwave engineering, EE 417 on antennas, EE 418 on high speed measurement and EE 488 on eddy current NDE. So as a follow up question. These 400 level courses, are they available to undergraduate students to take? Yes, most of them are offered once per year and EE 311 is offered every semester. And the eddy current course is offered once every other year. Great. So we do have a long list of courses in this field. What are the other courses that you teach in the department? Could you briefly describe their syllabus? I have taught EE 417 on antennas and EE 488 on eddy current NDE and several other graduate level The antenna course covers EM radiation and antenna parameters and the design and modeling of different types of antennas and antenna arrays. EE 417 and EE 414 on the microwave engineering are the most important courses, if you work on RF design and modeling. So are students exposed to the latest simulation tools and measurement setups while taking these courses and research projects in this area? Yes. There's a lab session in the EE 417, including antenna measurement in our microwave chamber and modeling using HFCC and other (tools). And as a follow question, this lab is supervised by teaching assistants and the Yes. Okay. So there is all the help available for students to pick up these techniques. Moving on to the next question. What kind of career path are perceived by students who graduate from your group? In other words, which companies do they work for when they move to industry? And what is the nature of their jobs. For undergraduate students, some of them continue to study in the graduate school for advanced degrees and others work in the wireless communications and the semiconductor industry. For the graduate students, some of them work as faculty members and others work in the companies like Skyworks, Intel, Cadence, NXP Semiconductors, Microsoft, etc. Great. Any final word of advice for our students. Build a solid foundation in the semiconductor and electromagnetics. Hope see you in my antenna and eddy current NDE courses. Thank you, Dr. Song. Thank you. You're welcome.