| Linking Universities And The High-Frequency Industry |
By Jack Browne, MWRF Technical Director
Engineering students have traditionally faced a trial by fire when leaving school and joining a company for the first time. Hopelessly optimistic and filled with textbook theory, they have yet to sample the "school of hard knocks" that comes from long hours on design teams and pursuing ideas that too often end in failure. In engineering, universities can provide excellent educations, but experience is also a great teacher.
Many industries, including the RF/microwave industry, will face a shortage of engineering talent in the near future as the members of a generation age and retire. Industry companies that learn to work closely with universities having solid engineering programs can help their own causes by creating a conduit for future talent.
One of the stories below offers an example of this type of cooperative effort taking place between students at Hong Kong University and Kyoto University and the software developers at Coventer and, in general, the MEMS design community. Students are learning to use high-level software tools while also learning about MEMS devices. By competing in a design contest, these students are becoming MEMS designers who will fill some much-needed shoes in the high-frequency industry in years to come. By partnering efforts with engineering schools, companies can help to educate our next generation of engineering talent and, at the same time, look out for their own future personnel needs.
XCOM and IMT Reach RF Relay Milestone
XCOM Wireless, Inc. (XCOM) and Innovative Micro Technology (IMT), a leading microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) foundry/contract manufacturer, have reached a critical milestone in producing their RF MEMS relay product. The two companies have implemented an effective wafer manufacturing process to produce die in high volumes at low cost. XCOM and IMT have automated wafer-level testing, established critical process controls, and enhanced temperature tolerance for soldering. XCOM is now sampling single-pole, double-throw (SPDT) RF MEMS relays for size-constrained and performance-critical applications in automated-test-equipment (ATE), RF instrumentation, and military and civilian radio applications.
According to Dr. Dan Hyman, CEO of XCOM, "We are extremely pleased with the progress the team has made in process enhancements and yield. Our products are now qualified; as volumes ramp, we are confident that IMT will continue to be a great manufacturing partner with the highest levels of quality and support." IMT's CEO, Dr. John Foster, added "IMT has partnered with XCOM to overcome the many challenges of taking their design from development and prototyping to volume production. We believe Xcom's products will take a leadership position in a variety of RF applications."
| Software Drives MEMS Design Contest |
Hong Kong University and Kyoto (Japan) University have chosen the 3D MEMS Designer and Analyzer software from Coventor as the computer-aided-engineering (CAE) tool for a MEMS design content. The contest is part of an educational program developed by Dr. Osamu Tabata, professor at Kyoto University and Dr. Man Wong, professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The program provides an introduction to MEMS and microfabrication by creating a virtual classroom where students design, analyze, and test MEMS devices using the software. The software also enables communication between students from Hong Kong and Japan through its documentation and 3D visualization capabilities.
Six teams are competing in the MEMS design contest. Each team consists of one student from Hong Kong University and one student from Kyoto University. Using Coventor's software, team members can simultaneously work on different aspects of the MEMS device without compromising the design. At the end of the program, the six teams will meet at Hong Kong University where the student's best MEMS designs will be fabricated in the university's clean room. The students will be able to conduct additional tests at the facility and assess their design's functionality and performance. Finally, the students and professors will select the best MEMS device based on its performance characteristics.
Professor Osamu Tabata of Kyoto University notes, "The MEMS design competition gives our students the opportunity to learn valuable lessons that translate to the real-world work environment, including MEMS manufacturing sequence processes as well as simulation skills, project management, and schedule management. The Coventor software tools have simplified the MEMS design and development process so that our students can optimize their designs and compare simulation results. We plan on repeating this program next year using Coventor's software."
| More News |
AWR Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Microlab/FXR Adds Broadband Coupler Series
Software Speeds Design of Large-Scale RFICs
TriQuint Recognized In PND Market
|Happenings - Conferences|
2008 IEEE Radio and Wireless Symposium (with WAMICON)
2008 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC)
2008 IEEE Sarnoff Symposium
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