The analysis of RF propagation is a weird and seldom understood engineering specialty practised by the few remaining experts in the field. These guys are usually the elders in an engineering team and are relied upon by the junior engineers for their knowledge base and past experiences. When things don’t work like the computer simulation, these are the guys you rely on to find the problem and come up with some ingenious method of solving the issues.
Well…… the elders are disappearing in larger numbers every year and it seems to be harder and harder to find new individuals with the broad range of knowledge and skill sets to be good engineers let alone the desire to be in this field. Schools are cutting back on curriculum as other technologies are perceived to be more in-demand to the upcoming generations. I’ve even heard RF engineering referred to as that icky “physical layer stuff”.
At a time when the world is becoming more and more reliant on wireless communications and next generation networks, we need to encourage interest in RF and Radio engineering as well as capture the disappearing tribal knowledge base.
I am encouraged by a recent article in the February issue of the Mission Critical magazine (www.MCCmag.com) about the efforts of Carole Perry and the Radio Club of America (RCA). They have a radio technology program that supports 22 schools and 2 museums with their education programs. Carole has taught Amateur Radio to 6th to 8th graders for over 30 years with a high percentage receiving their FCC licenses. Her efforts are certainly encouraging new talent to become RF Engineers. She mentions one of her Young Achievers in the article and I just had to see the YouTube video presentation given by this 17 year old on Fractal Antennas. His presentation was extremely impressive. I see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and hope for our endangered species. Austin Schaller’s presentation can be seen by typing “fractal antennas + RCA” in the YouTube search box. Take a look at an up-coming star.