The Macquarie University School of Engineering has joined up with US-based semiconductor leader Analog Devices to set up a new teaching and research lab to better prepare the next generation of engineers.
“Traditionally, undergraduate engineering education has been structured around classroom theory, laboratory exercises, and a relatively disconnected industry-placement or internship system,” says the School of Engineering’s Professor Michael Heimlich.
“Similarly, Masters and PhD work is typically done in an academic setting with inputs and arms-length interactions with the ‘real world’ at best.”
The Macquarie and Analog Devices Teaching and Research Laboratory will focus on microwave and millimetre-wave integrated circuit design to meet the demands of emerging technologies such as 5G cellular.
“Macquarie University has a history of world class MMIC design and modelling expertise,” says Analog Devices’ Senior Director of Engineering, John Cowles.
“Bringing these technical skills closer to real product development is critical towards accelerating the introduction of next generation technologies into emerging high frequency applications. The merging of design innovation with world class manufacturing is what makes this partnership so exciting.”
Macquarie University was a pioneer of wireless communications (Wi-Fi) 20 years ago and has maintained its specialist expertise in that space. The new lab aims to address the mismatch between existing educational pathways and industry needs, by reversing the tradition of sending students out to industry. Instead industry is being invited into the university.
“Half a dozen or more engineers with industry experience will be embedded within MADTRL, and provide mentoring to dozens of students across the entire degree spectrum,” says Prof Heimlich.
“And Macquarie University researchers will be providing cutting-edge computer-aided design, modelling and measurement technology to continually push the circuit design capability forward.”
"Australia in general, and Macquarie University in particular, is one of the few places in the world where there is a relatively high degree of expertise in MMIC design," explain Macquarie's Professor of Electronics Simon Mahon.
“Universities and employers haven’t been interested in this skillset in the last 20 years, preferring to work on radio frequency system-on-chips which, while sharing some challenges with MMICs, are significantly different in the skillset they require.”
“It’s a trinity of expertise,” says Prof Mahon. “Good circuit design for millimetre-wave is a rare skill, and we have the world expert in the mathematics and measurement of transistors: Professor Tony Parker.”
“We’ve found ourselves in a highly advantageous position to be able to capitalise on the needs of companies like Analog Devices.”