It's one thing for students to read about electrical engineering in a textbook.
It's certainly helpful for those same electrical engineering students to gain the insights provided in lectures by Arkansas Tech University faculty members.
But to be able to work with the same equipment that professional electrical engineers use on a daily basis…that is a transformational educational experience.
ATU students gained such an experience when engineers from Keysight demonstrated their instrumentation that measures and tests electrical and electronic signals during a spring 2021 semester event on the Arkansas Tech campus in Russellville.
"I think the more introductions we have, the bigger the spectrum of possibilities that our students see for themselves and for their future," said Dr. Saffeer M. Khan, associate professor of electrical engineering at ATU. "This allows our students to keep abreast with the latest developments that are happening in technology."
The Keysight demonstration at ATU was sponsored by the university's chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
"During our presentation, we wanted to showcase to the students a wide variety of Keysight general purpose instrumentation for device characterization," said Tyler Pierce, territory account manager for Keysight. "For instance, we looked at how a phone connects to a Bluetooth speaker. We displayed to the students how IoT (internet of things) device science works and how device engineers design, simulate and validate the equipment through testing. We hope to bring similar simulations like this to universities in future semesters."
Dr. Carl Greco, professor of electrical engineering at ATU, observed that the Keysight presentation related directly to subject matter he teaches in the ATU electrical engineering course in communication systems.
"Much of the equipment that was demonstrated actually shows the practical aspect of that," said Greco. "I think it was really beneficial for the students to see the spectrum analyzers and such that could be used to actually analyze communication systems."
Greco went on to say that having experience with equipment such as the Keysight instrumentation that was demonstrated at Arkansas Tech is important for the employability of graduates.
"It's critical because when our graduates go into industry, the companies are going to expect them to be able to work with this equipment," said Greco.
Of course, electrical engineers must be able to do more than interact with the equipment. They must also be able to have meaningful exchanges with fellow engineers and other individuals inside and outside their organization.
Khan explained that is the real magic of events such as the Keysight demonstration.
"I think the experience our students receive from interacting with people from industry and sharing ideas about highly-technical subject matter is an experience we want all our graduates to have," said Khan. "Developing those communication skills and being able to ask relevant questions is very important."
Jessica Chin is a Keysight engineer who helped make the demonstration at ATU possible.
"I graduated fairly recently, so it's really nice to give back to the students," said Chin. "I really like sharing my experience. I interned at Keysight for three summers, so I can tell them a lot about the opportunities that are out there for engineers. Giving back and teaching students what I have learned has been a great experience."
Learn more about Keysight at www.keysight.com.
Learn more about the study of electrical engineering at Arkansas Tech at www.atu.edu/engineering/electrical.