Auburn University student Tim Dunlap, conducted undergraduate research this past summer for the department of electrical engineering. Dunlap worked on a team of three to determine how signals are sent. The goal of the project was to predict error within a signal based off its sample location.
Dunlap, who is seeking a dual degree in physics and computer engineering, received the position by simply asking a professor if he had any available work. Soon after, the team began studying how AM and FM radio signals travel. They tested why these signals are stronger than others and initiated their own calculative experiments on how to find error. Dunlap realized that it is impossible to attain a perfect transition. Electronics will naturally encompass background noises that can result in a loss of signal. Required circuit filters were also shown to interfere with digital signals as they block and suppress important information.
Measurements were recorded based on lines and a corresponding string of ones and zeros. The longer the line was, the greater a delay in signal. “Applying the skills and concepts learned in my introductory classes for electrical engineering has enabled me to understand my field in a much more tangible way,” Dunlap said.
Another activity Dunlap has participated in to enhance his knowledge of computer engineering is a program called Best Robotics. The high school outreach program supplies free materials to schools for students to build a robot. Once the robot is completed, students may submit it to Auburn for competition. Referees tally scores according to the design and marketing presentation given by each team. “The moment I decided to put forth effort into an area of interest such as Best Robotics, was the moment I envisioned a productive career in engineering,” he said.
Dunlap takes after his father who is a civil engineer, but has decided his calling is more toward electrical and computer. He plans to find a computer engineering job with a focus in software design that directly interfaces with hardware. Dunlap recommends students be proactive in pursuing work that correlates not only to their degree, but to their own personal fulfillment.