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Electrical and computer engineering major Eric Geissenhainer ’04 knew he wanted to work in electronics when he graduated from Emmaus High School in 1997, but wasn’t certain of his abilities. Five and a half years later, Geissenhainer holds an associate’s degree in electronics technology, has worked in full-time electronics for several years, and explored ways to speed up Internet connections for computer users last semester at Lafayette.

“Once I got into the field, I knew I wanted to be an engineer,” says Geissenhainer, who earned his associate’s degree in 1999, then worked full-time at Lutron Electronics Co. Inc. in Coopersburg, Pa., while studying at Lafayette part-time until August, when he enrolled for a full schedule of classes.

Geissenhainer also became a participant in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate with faculty on research while earning a stipend. He took on a project involving Internet speed with David Rich, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Rich holds nine patents and has two more pending. He has shared his research in engineering journals and conference presentations, including articles last year in IEEE Microwave Magazine and IEEE Journal of Circuits and Systems. A panelist at IEEE Simulation and Circuits Conferences since 1995, Rich has held positions at Lucent Technologies-Bell Labs, AT&T Bell Labs, TLSI Inc., and General Instruments Corp.

Rich and Geissenhainer used an early version of a software program developed by Orora Design Technologies Inc. of Redmond, Wash., to design an operational amplifier that can efficiently drive a telephone line for DSL applications. The software, designed for U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, helps engineers design complex analog circuits that are difficult to analyze using hand calculations.

“With Orora’s software, we investigated multiple topologies for the amplifier and determined which one best achieved the desired specification for a DSL line driver at the lowest possible cost,” Rich says. He explains that the software “provided insights about the design of these high-performance amplifiers that are not possible using other software tools,” eventually enabling Orora to improve the software.

Geissenhainer says the project helped him think in new ways.

“We worked with the guys who actually designed the software,” he says. “It was a learning experience. I have a different outlook about the way I attack problems, the way I think about things. I don’t have the tunnel vision I used to have.”

Geissenhainer adds that he knows the experience will help him after he graduates and begins work as a full-fledged electrical engineer.

“I’ll think I’ll be a more valuable employee — and I’ll definitely more competitive,” he says.

Categorized in: Academic News