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Adam Willitsford ’02 (Maple Glen, Pa.) has been researching cutting-edge technologies in fiber optic communications as a summer EXCEL Scholar. Willitsford, an electrical and computer engineering major, designed a 20GHz oscillator for fiber optics.

“We are attempting to take a laser along with fiber-optic cable and mix it with radio frequency signals to transmit down the fiber-optic cable at high speeds, possibly up to 40GHz,” says the student.

As an EXCEL Scholar, he is working with William D. Jemison, assistant professor of electrical engineering. In EXCEL, students assist faculty with research while earning a stipend.

Willitsford says he is using many tools to aid his research, including Hewlett-Packard Advanced Design Systems, which allow him to “build” and simulate his entire circuit without physically constructing it.

“This is very useful. It aids in finding unexpected problems as well as providing a comparison for the actual circuit,” he says. “I can also use the tuner function that allows me to fine-tune parameters so I can perfect my design.”

Upon completion of the design, Willitsford says, he was able to build the circuit and then test it with a network analyzer and an oscilloscope.

“The EXCEL experience has been excellent,” he comments. “It has given me the opportunity to research cutting-edge ideas while working alongside my professor and colleagues.”

He says Jemison has provided excellent guidance.

“He would simply point me in the right direction and allow me the freedom to make my own decisions about the project,” says Willitsford. “This experience will be a valuable asset as I look at graduate schools and other research institutions.”

A graduate of Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pa., Willitsford is a member and living group officer of the Dry Surfers and a member of the physics club, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Students Association, and the Soccer Club. He is also involved in intramural sports.

Categorized in: Academic News