Meet EECS graduate student David B. Cole

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EECS graduate student David Bernard Cole. Second year student in the Claude E. Shannon Communication and Network Group under Professor Vincent Chan.  My basis field of interest is optical communication systems and networks.

I'm a third year doctoral student in the Photonic Microsystems Group where Professor Mike Watts is my advisor. My fields of interest include optical communications and sensor systems, integrated lasers, and microwave photonics.

Where are you from and where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

I was born and raised in Talladega Alabama, a small town approximately 50 miles east of Birmingham. I completed undergraduate degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering at New York University and Stevens Institute of Technology respectively as part of the NYU/Stevens dual degree program. Following graduation, I worked for Lockheed Martin as a microwave engineer designing phased array antennas and radar receivers for the Aegis Weapon System. I also completed a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania during that period, focusing in electromagnetics and communications systems. After completing the MSEE, I decided to add a new skill set to my engineering base and pursued a Masters of Business Administration in finance from the Wharton School of Business. I worked in several non-engineering careers during and after business school, including investment banking and pharmaceutical lobbying, before returning to engineering with the U.S. Government.

What is your research about and why are you excited about your project?

My current research focuses on developing micro-photonic devices that have applications in optical communications systems, networks, and sensors. What is most exciting about photonics, and silicon photonics in particular, is the integration of circuit theory, signals and systems, and electromagnetics to develop entire systems with dimensions on the order of several millionths of a meter (microns). Because these devices operate in the optical spectrum, they can achieve bandwidths several orders of magnitude higher than their RF and microwave counterparts, with the added benefit of extremely low loss. My time in the group has afforded me opportunities to work on photonic devices ranging from on-chip lasers, detectors, modulators, optical phased arrays, and interferometers.

What do you like to do outside of research and academics?

I like exploring Boston and New England with my family. I also enjoy flying and anything aviation related, as well as scuba diving, astronomy, and working out. However, school and my most important job, that of being a dad, make it harder to find time for those activities.

What are your career goals and future plans?

I will return to the government after graduating, where I plan to first serve in a research scientist role before moving into a senior scientist position. Ultimately, I want to serve the country as a technical resource. I’d also like to become a flight instructor and teach students part-time.

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