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PVAMU Awarded $1million Grant from National Science Foundation


Mixed Signal Testing Research Photograph

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas – Four faculty members in the electrical engineering department at Prairie View A&M University, Drs. John Attia, Matthew Sadiku, Cajetan Akujuobi and Lijun Qian, were awarded a $1million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a research project on modeling and testing of advanced mixed signal systems. The project began on Sept. 1, 2005 and will end in August 2008.

The grant was given through the NSF project Historically Black Colleges and Universities—Research Infrastructure in Science and Technology. The project's goal is to enhance research at historically black schools that offer doctoral degrees in science and technology.

Mixed signal circuits are found in medical instruments, telecommunication, space and military systems. Advanced mixed signal systems of the future will have increased chip speed and reduced operating voltage. However, as the feature size of semiconductor devices becomes very small, mixed signal systems will face technological challenges such as increased crosstalk noise, low noise margin and increased susceptibility to radiation. The grant will allow the researchers to model and characterize low power, high speed and anti-radiation capable mixed signal systems for the next generation of wireless network applications.

Mixed Signal Testing Research Photograph

This project will build on the existing research work in mixed signal testing methodologies at the Texas Instruments Analog Mixed Signal Laboratory at Prairie View A&M University. Texas Instruments, Inc. has supported the Mixed Signal Laboratory for the past five years. Expansion of the current mixed signal reseach work will include the study of crosstalk, power management and radiation effects in advanced mixed signal systems. Through the research project, Attia, Sadiku, Akujuobi and Qian expect to develop additional relationships with companies that manufacture mixed signal circuits.

The grant will allow Prairie View A&M University to provide educational training to graduate (PhD and MS) and undergraduate students through research and hands-on experience. PVAMU will also use this grant to enhance the current analog mixed signal techniques courses. Another benefit of this award is that it will provide a variety of topics for teams of students to work on their senior design projects.

Mixed Signal Testing Research Photograph

In addition, this research will provide a strong tie between Prairie View A&M University and the high-tech industry in the area of mixed signal systems. With the grant, Attia, Sadiku, Akujuobi and Qian will increase the infrastructure for mixed signal systems research at PVAMU. In August, the university opened a $12 million, 48,787 square foot electrical engineering facility that houses much of its engineering research and laboratories.

"We hope by the end of this project to be in a position to get a center for the study of mixed signal systems and be one of the world leaders doing research in mixed signal systems," said Attia, electrical engineering department head and this project's principal investigator.

"In addition, the grant will help us attract more master's and doctoral students, and we may be able to write supplementary grants to provide more research experience to our undergraduate students," Attia said.

Mixed Signal Testing Research Photograph

The research project has enhanced the relationship between Prairie View A&M and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), also a member of the A&M System and the engineering research agency of Texas. TEES administers this NSF grant.

"TEES has worked to create a substantial partnership with Prairie View A&M University and is pleased that efforts are bringing federal dollars to engineering in Texas that will benefit the citizens of the state," said Dr. Theresa Maldonado, associate director of TEES and dean of research for Texas A&M Engineering. "This funding will enhance Prairie View's new Electrical Engineering PhD program and TEES looked forward to further developing ideas for funding proposals with the institution."