Agilent Test Equipment Hits the Ivy League
When Peter Detkin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering in 1982, he probably had no idea that he would eventually help so many students there. Mr. Detkin is now the co-founder and vice-chairman at Intellectual Ventures, but he also serves on the Board of Overseers for the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, where he has provided significant support for the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering’s (ESE) principle teaching laboratory, the Detkin Lab.
A big part of the success of the ESE lab is the state-of the-art test and measurement equipment that is available to the students. “The modern equipment allows students to go beyond traditional coursework,” states Siddharth Deliwala, Manager of the ESE Labs. “Powerful and easy to use equipment allow students to feel empowered while troubleshooting and debugging their projects. The lab upgrade has allowed us to change the focus of some of our advanced courses from strictly theoretical to practical using software and embedded hardware. We’re able to push the boundaries of typical freshmen and sophomore level classes by bringing in open ended and design-based projects. The ability of our lab courses to be fast paced is critical to keeping our students engaged. ”
The lab consists of a total of 26 stations (typically with 2 students per bench). The lab has also become a hub for students not only from ESE but also from Physics, Mechanical Engineering, and Bio Engineering departments. It’s a meeting place for students, conveniently open during evening hours and weekends. Each year more than 350 students benefit from the lab, including approximately 200 from ESE and the rest from other the departments.
“We’ve gone from teaching lab to a learning lab,” notes Deliwala.
The physical space is equally impressive. The lab has an open design, surrounded by large glass windows, which allows the department to easily showcase their recently updated facility. The lab utilizes rack-mounted equipment, including 26 4-channel 300 MHz MSO Oscilloscopes and 30 MHz Function / Arbitrary Waveform Generators.
“The purchase of the 4-channel MSO scopes was one of the best decisions I made,” relates Mr. Deliwala. “The capabilities that these instruments provide are especially useful, for example, in the embedded design courses. These powerful scopes give the students the ability to observe digital and analog signal inputs and outputs, providing them with a window into what’s going on in their circuit. It’s these little things that make a big difference to our students.” In addition to the scopes, the Detkin lab also includes other gear including function generators, digital multi-meters, and power supplies.
The Detkin lab is also utilized by two novel programs offered by Penn during summer:
- The Management & Technology Summer Institute (M&TSI) is a for-credit summer program for rising high school seniors who want to learn about the integration of technological concepts and management principles. The program is sponsored by The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and The Wharton School.
- The Pre-Freshman Program is a four-week summer program that provides a chance for participating students to get an academic and social edge, while becoming familiar with Philadelphia and Penn's campus. The program helps to improve retention rates for students entering as freshmen in the school of engineering and applied science at Penn.
Penn Engineering is constantly striving to meet the needs of today’s engineering students. “Our undergraduates want a cross-disciplinary experience which includes everything from simulation and modeling to circuit and prototype design. They want hands-on experience with the technology and the Detkin lab allows them to do so,” emphasizes Deliwala.
And the hands-on experience with the Agilent MSO oscilloscopes has been a big hit with both students and staff. “Agilent has the most user friendly scopes out there. Hands down, the easy-to-learn user interface was the main reason for purchasing from Agilent. The scope competition didn’t have it,” notes Deliwala. ”It was important for us to have test equipment with short learning curves. This allows us to accelerate the learning process for our students.”
The Penn ESE program and the Detkin Lab outfitted with some of Agilent’s latest test equipment will surely motivate and inspire future engineers. And who knows, they too may eventually be in a position to give back to the university, much like Peter Detkin (’82) has generously done over the years.
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