The BRADLEY DEPARTMENT of ELECTRICAL and COMPUTER ENGINEERING

Noah Allen - graduate student | ECE | Virginia Tech

Noah P. Allen ECE graduate student

GRAD STUDENT HIGHLIGHT



Portrait photograph of Noah P. Allen
Noah P. Allen

Where were you born?

I was born in Richmond, Virginia, but I spent my childhood in Goochland, Virginia.

What are your hobbies?

When I started graduate school, I became fascinated with embedded systems, and in my spare time tried my hand at designing my own to do things like control an LED light strip or help with taking data when working in lab. Other than that, I enjoy downhill mountain biking, snowboarding, and scuba diving whenever I have a free weekend.

What's one interesting fact about you?

I often work in the cleanroom here at Virginia Tech and have to wear the full bunny suit so that my research samples donâ??t get contaminated by particles floating in the air.

What are you researching? How might it impact society?

My research focuses on improving gallium nitride (GaN) power electronic devices by understanding the effect of varying the material properties. We require electric power conversion and inversion everywhere, including in our cellphone chargers, solar inverters, and even in electric toothbrushes. One of the key elements in these types of circuits is a power transistor, which needs to be able to turn high voltages on and off and sink large electrical currents without heating up too much. This heat generation causes inefficiencies and can prevent the circuit from being used for higher power applications like battery power conversion for electric car motors. Implementing GaN-based power transistors in a power inversion or conversion circuit can further increase its efficiency and power handling capabilities.

What influenced you to choose ECE at Virginia Tech?

After spending four years in Atlanta, I knew I wanted to continue my education but was ready to leave the city. So, I looked for schools that had the research and facilities that interested me. Being from Virginia, I only heard good things about Virginia Tech as a university and decided to explore my options here. After talking with professors, touring the facilities, and exploring Blacksburg, I knew that this was the place for me.

How do you like living in Blacksburg and the surrounding area?

Honestly, I love everything that Blacksburg has to offer, especially during the summer when there is live music, outdoor social events, and the weather is perfect for hiking, biking and swimming.

What is your ideal job? Why?

The second year I was here at Virginia Tech, I began as a teaching assistant (TA) for the Engineering Education (ENGE) department and loved every second of it. Since then, Iâ??ve been a TA for five semesters and an instructor for seven semesters between the ENGE and ECE departments. Considering this, along with my passion for learning, securing a position as a professor at a research university would be my perfect job.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell myself to keep being curious and to try building more things. Iâ??ve learned more from my failed attempts than I have from my instant successes.