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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Graduate Student Returns from Internship at Microsoft

Published on December 19th, 2013 by Michelle Ward

Graduate student Nahal Niakan completed an internship this fall with Microsoft at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

She worked with the systems engineering group on electromagnetic interference (EMI) issues with the new Surface tablet. Niakan also collaborated with the antenna and design verification groups to ensure the safe, efficient, and reliable performance of Surface tablets.

EECS graduate student Nahal Niakan conducts research in the Remote Sensing Lab.
EECS graduate student Nahal Niakan conducts research in the Remote Sensing Lab.

“I was fortunate to have this opportunity. Working at Microsoft with team of very bright and experienced engineers on cutting-edge technology reminded me how much I love electrical engineering,” said Niakan.

She first met Microsoft representatives at the Fall 2012 Engineering and Computer Career Fair. They showed immediate interest in her resume, especially her research with EECS Professor Christopher Allen. Dr. Allen is leading a NASA project on collision-avoidance technology for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Niakan conducted research on the sense-and-avoid radar that will allow UAVs to fly autonomously while steering clear of obstacles, such as aircraft, buildings, and towers.

In addition to her research experience, she credits her yearlong GTA position in Introduction to Digital Logic Design (EECS 140) with helping her prepare for the internship. Niakan says the lab tested and expanded her laboratory skills. She adds that Electromagnetic Compatibility (EECS 611) and High-Speed Digital Circuit Design (EECS 713) were particularly helpful in her work at Microsoft.

This spring, Niakan is finishing her thesis under the direction of EECS Assistant Professor Sarah Seguin. Niakan’s research focuses on improving the performance of closely spaced antennas used in wireless communications. By reducing coupling, the unwanted transfer of energy to nearby antennas, Niakan aims to increase the efficiency of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology and enhance wireless communication.