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UW EE and Agilent Technologies Collaborate on New High-Tech RF and Microwave Teaching Laboratory


Bruce Darling, Dan Dunn (Agilent), Wilkie Yu (Agilent), and John Sahr exploring the measurement features of the Agilent FieldFox N9914A

The UW Electrical Engineering Department is pleased to announce the opening of the new Agilent Technologies RF Laboratory. This new teaching lab was made possible through generous in-kind support from Agilent Technologies. Agilent provided deep discounts on state-of-the-art hardware and software for the lab, which will support the department's curriculum in electromagnetics and wireless technologies. The lab will be named in recognition of the company's support. The Department hosted a special event on March 6th to dedicate the lab; the event was attended by Agilent executives, EE faculty, and College of Engineering leadership.

The new Agilent Technologies RF Laboratory will provide students access to the latest bench-top and hand-held instruments for radio frequency (RF) and microwave measurements. The instrumentation focuses on vector network analyzers (VNAs) which are the standard instrumentation tools for microwave and RF engineering, similar to the role of the oscilloscope and digital multimeter in analog electronics and electrical troubleshooting. The Agilent hardware also includes spectrum analysis capability and flexible signal synthesis for the development and testing of complete RF systems with up to date communication protocols. 

“We are thrilled about this partnership with Agilent Technologies," said Judy Ramey, interim Frank & Julie Jungers dean of engineering. “With Agilent’s generous support, we are able to enhance and expand our student’s educational experience.”

Bruce Darling and EE undergraduate student Evan Nelson performing a transmission line matching test on the Agilent FieldFox N9914A.

"RF and microwave technology has provided society with several breakthrough electrical engineering and communication technologies and is continuing to develop rapidly," said professor Vikram Jandhyala, chair of the university's department of electrical engineering. "The Agilent Technologies RF Lab will allow our students to gain important hands-on test and design experience that will help prepare them for critical positions in industry."

This hardware laboratory will support several existing courses in Electrical Engineering which have long been in need of a relevant laboratory component. These courses include EE-361 (Applied Electromagnetics), EE-467 (Antennas:  Analysis and Design), EE-480 (Microwave Engineering), and EE-481 (Microwave Electronic Design). New laboratory courses in communications, wireless systems, and electromagnetic sensing will be developed. State-of-the-art software tools from Agilent complete the laboratory by allowing students to flexibly manipulate and display acquired measurement data using the VSA software package, and to design complete systems from the component level up using the industry standard computer-aided design (CAD) suite known as “EEsof.” Experience with industry standard tools will give students up-to-date education in modern RF and microwave design and give them a head start for employment opportunities which demand this knowledge and training. 

"Agilent is delighted to work with the faculty at the University of Washington's electrical engineering department to develop a high-quality RF and microwave education for future engineers," said Dan Dunn, general manager of Agilent's handheld and low-cost network analysis division.

One of the more unique features of this laboratory which sets it apart from others is the use of hand-held network analyzers. Modern electronic instrumentation now makes it possible to miniaturize an entire network analyzer into a hand-held form factor. This allows for portability and enables some measurement applications that would otherwise be impossible to accomplish. Here, the instrument can be taken directly into the field to measure antenna patterns, signal propagation, coupling effects, and signal transmission issues. The hand-held instruments also enable classroom demonstrations which can then be reproduced by the students. State-of-the-art bench-top instrumentation is also included to support computer-aided design flows which require close coupling of measurements to system planning and layout. The overall combination of hand-held and bench-top instruments and their associated software provides a well-rounded laboratory capable of supporting many different areas in electrical engineering and providing for future laboratory capability to keep up with the advancements in this technology. 

The UW Electrical Engineering department is excited about this partnership with Agilent Technologies, which significantly expands its relationship with the company. The press release announcing the new lab can be found here:

http://www.agilent.com/about/newsroom/presrel/2013/20feb-em13030.html


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