Every two years, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) selects outstanding research proposals to fund; only about one in 10 submissions is selected for funding. Two professors of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington are among this year's winners, thanks to research that may at first to appear behind the times.
Drs. Ronald Carter and Alan Davis are developing a next-generation, high-speed analog chip design. Though digital is the buzzword in today's electronics, analog serves very important functions. "Digital chips are not as precise as analog chips," said Dr. Carter. "Digital is series of ones and zeros, but analog controls how quickly a circuit responds to and switches those ones and zeros." "And analog chips can be found in a host of wireless uses," adds Dr. Davis. "You'll find them in PDAs, cell phones, even in the checkout at the grocery. And remember, we hear in analog. Those pleasant sounds you hear from a CD are the result of an analog signal."
Carter and Davis' research is a $450,000 project funded by THECB, National Semiconductor Corporation (NSC) and the Electrical Engineering Department of UTA's College of Engineering. THECB is supplying $200,000, NSC is matching that amount and the department is providing $50,000. "This is a win-win situation for UTA and NSC," said Carter. "We get to strengthen our analog design program and involve our faculty and students in advanced technology; NSC gets a new design specific to its analog product lines and a connection to experienced student analog engineers and potential NSC employees. And National Semiconductor will be processing UTA designs using one of their advanced proprietary processes. It's an example of trust and a belief that we can produce a successful design."
In addition to designing the chip, UTA personnel will evaluate prototypes of the chip following manufacture at NSC. The project, scheduled to take place over a two-year period, will involve undergraduate, graduate and doctorate-level participation and should improve UTA's reputation in analog design. Only about one in 10 electrical engineering programs at U.S. universities has a strong emphasis in analog design.
December 18, 2001