* Image:Prof Satish K Sharma in front of anechoic chamber showing antenna measurement system to the graduate students.
h5. How did you get into electronics/ engineering and when did you start?
As a high school kid, I had a dream of becoming an engineer and researcher. Therefore, after completing high school, I studied Electronics Engineering (1991) and later on completed Ph D (1997) in the same discipline with specialization in Antennas and Microwave Engineering in India. I then went to Canada as a Post Doctorial fellow at the University of Manitoba. I was there for two years, and then I moved to a company doing R&D work. After spending 5 years there I decided that I wanted to teach and I applied to San Diego State University, received a job and moved. So for the last 15 years, I am carrying out and also currently advising my graduate students on novel antennas and arrays for wireless/satellite communications and radar applications including novel electromagnetic materials.
h5. The R&D Company that you work at for 5 years, what type of work did you do there?
I worked in a start-up company InfoMagnetics Technologies Corporation where I wrote several research proposals, secured funds and performed research and development work on antennas and microwave components and participated in customer meetings during and after the end of the project contracts.
h5. Can you tell us more about your job at San Diego State University?
When I came here in 2006, there was no antenna research activity. They had a microwave lab but they used it to teach a microwave device and system course. Once I started to work there, I started to direct the lab and upgraded it and added antenna research facility. The lab houses several vector network analyzers, an anechoic chamber equipped with antenna radiation pattern measurement tools, surface mount component soldering station, computer aided milling machine and several full wave analysis tools, etc. I use these resources to perform antenna research and train future engineers. I also teach courses related to antennas, microwaves engineering and electromagnetics.
I advise BS, MS, M Eng, and Ph D students’ thesis research. My main research funding comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s CAREER grant and DARPA, Navy and SPAWAR funded SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II subcontracts through the local companies.
h5. What type of antennas do you enjoy designing?
Most of the time, I like to design antennas for space and ground communications, mobile handheld devices and wireless communication applications in general. More specifically, I work on antenna types such as feeds for reflectors, reconfigurable aperture antennas, microstrip antennas and arrays, wire antennas, electrically small antennas, dielectric resonator antennas, and use of novel electromagnetic metamaterial structures for enhancing antenna performance.
h5. Can you tell us more about the anechoic chamber that you use?
The anechoic chamber is designed to work from 800MHz to 18GHz range. Both far-field and spherical near-field measurements can be performed. The chamber is equipped with antenna position controller and software to set-up the measurement and process the data after measurement is complete. The anechoic chamber along with the antenna measurement system was installed by Orbit/FR. Chamber uses Anritsu’s Vector Network Analyzer for microwave source. Broadband horns from Satimo are used as the reference antenna for far-field measurements and open ended waveguide probes from Near-field Systems are used for the spherical near-field measurements.
h5. What are your favorite hardware tools that you use?
My favorite hardware tools that I use for my research are Vector Network Analyzers for scattering parameter measurements, Antenna radiation pattern measurement in anechoic chamber, CAD milling machine for prototyping antennas, and surface mount component soldering station for integrating RF switches with antennas.
h5. What are your favorite software tools that you use?
I use full wave Maxwell equation solvers such as Ansoft Corporations High Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS) and Designer, Feko, Ticra's GRASP, and Orbit F/R's spectrum analysis for processing measured results.
h5. What is on your bookshelf?
“Microstrip and Printed Antennas: New Trends, Techniques and Applications”, EDITED by D. Guha and Y.M.M. Antar, Wiley. ISBN: 978-0-470-68192-3, Hardcover, 504 pages, January 2011 where I have co-authored a chapter, “Printed Antennas for Wireless Applications”.
h5. What has been your favorite project?
My favorite projects have been developing antennas for several radar applications and wireless/satellite communications. One such project lead to co-inventing an antenna, “Multiple Phase Center Feedhorn for Reflector Antennas” US Patent # 7,180,459 granted February 20, 2007.
h5. When you build an antenna, do you build them in your own lab?
We use software simulations tools to design the antennas. After design is complete, different resources can be used to fabricate antennas. For example, in Antenna and Microwave lab, I have LPKF CAD milling machine that can be used to prototype planar antennas based on the microstrip technology. For other types of antenna fabrication, I had to seek external help.
h5. What type of material do you like to use when you build your own horn antennas?
I like to use aluminum because it is lightweight and more affordable. It also has good enough conductivity.
h5. What are you currently working on?
Currently, my main focus is on research and design of platform independent ultra-wide bandwidth omni-directional antennas and frequency & polarization reconfigurable novel compact aperture antennas and arrays, which are funded projects. If you had heard about 3G and 4G, phones such as the iPhones have so many features now-a-days. You can send email, do Facebook, surf the Internet, etc. You want to be able to use these features, but also have more secure connectivity, since you send data now. I am also working on developing novel compact volumetric metamaterial structures and multiband multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) antennas for portable devices such as USB dongle, mobile phones and Laptop computers to help with these problems.
h5. What direction do you see your business heading in the next few years?
The antenna related business covers both commercial and defense markets. With the need of increasing high data transfer rate and multifunctional capability; there is tremendous growth in researching and designing of novel compact antennas and arrays.
h5. What challenges do you foresee in our industry?
The challenges that industry will face are trade-offs to be made on the antenna performance while minimizing cost, miniaturized design with low form factor, light weight, easy integration and sharing the same platform by multiple antennas dealing with multiple applications.
- The Way I Work: Interview with David Haboud, Product Marketing Engineer at Altium
- The Way I Work: Interview with Natasha Baker, founder of SnapEDA
- The Way I Work: Interview with Todd Dust, Senior Staff Systems Engineer at Cypress Semiconductor
- The Way I Work: Interview with Bel Haba, an engineer with 400 patents