VIEW FROM THE TOP
President, RFMW, Ltd.
Q: The importance of sustaining and developing technology has reached a point where states and cities are more actively building relationships with universities and recruiting high-tech companies. Good examples are New York State’s “East Coast Silicon Valley” and several cities in Ohio. However, there continues to be a shortage of engineering graduates, especially those focusing on RF and microwave technology. What would your company do (or is doing) to help promote careers in microwave engineering?
A: Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo recently invited students and parents to a presentation from industry experts located in California. When parents asked about their child’s chances of getting a job upon leaving with an engineering degree, it was stated that a national average of two jobs are available for every engineering graduate. That was general engineering graduates. In specific areas, such as RF, the prospects are even greater as many students shy away from this field. RFMW supports Universities with low cost Test and Measurement equipment for RF and microwave applications. For example, one of our suppliers, Telemakus, LLC offers USB controlled RF signal generators, power meters, digital attenuators, switches and vector modulators. Using a common PC, a student or instructor can build a network analyzer for a fraction of the cost of a benchtop analyzer. This offers students the advantage of configuring a system from “building blocks” which enables them to understand how these systems work. Our newly hired, Cal Poly graduate is using his educational experience and on-the-job training to support RF&MW development in a diverse customer base. One of our interns will complete his BSEE next year and possibly go for a MSEE.
Q: For those of you serving the military market, what do you expect 2013 will bring in terms of opportunities in this sector?
A: A bright spot continues to be the need for better EW, radar, intel gathering and communication systems and the linking of those systems throughout the various military branches. RFMW is supporting very large engagements with military contractors designing and building the next generation comm systems for our warfighters. The complexity of these systems and their broad band requirements necessitate the use of the best and latest technology, from low phase noise oscillators to broadband GaN amplifiers and everything in between. RFMW suppliers offer these products and our sales engineers work hand-in-hand with design engineers to ensure their awareness of the right devices with the best cost/performance ratio.
Q: If your company serves the commercial markets, are you encouraged by any particular emerging application or technology?
A: AMR and Smart Energy were the emerging applications creating a frenzy of activity and customers responded with innovations in smart meters for monitoring electricity and water all the way to IP controlled light bulbs. This year, Although not an emerging technology, the growth of on-the-go and in-home distribution of infotainment and entertainment is causing a buzz among our suppliers. They’re particularly interested in the 5GHz ISM spectrum and dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz applications for in-home video transport. Need for higher throughput to support Gigabit WiFi and HD Video over WiFi are fueling activity in low cost, linear transceivers and Front End Modules. Analysts say that over 300 million connected TV devices are expected to be shipped in 2015. Smartphones are plentiful in the hundreds of millions. As more content is demanded by consumers, the infrastructure to support it will continue to grow.
Q: What countries or regions do you believe will provide the greatest growth potential for the wireless industry in 2013?
A: Small Cell development and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. ♦