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Meet Jordan Budhu, new electrical and computer engineering assistant professor

Jordan Budhu

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is one of the largest ECE departments in the country and has faculty from a wide variety of backgrounds with expertise in many different research areas. One of our newest assistant professors is no exception. Dr. Jordan Budhu is an electrical engineer, who earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has expertise in metasurfaces and metamaterials, antennas, electromagnetic camouflage, and more.

Get to know more about Budhu with our top 5 getting to know you Qs:

Why Virginia Tech? What do you love about VT?

I chose Virginia Tech largely because of its reputation for being one of the top engineering schools in the country. The department has also positioned itself to be competitive with the top-ten universities in electrical and computer engineering. Its structure and sheer size as well as the innovative undergraduate curriculum allowing students to choose from 12 different majors was also very appealing to me. The long-term plan of the department makes me excited to be part of a growing and talented team!

If that were not enough, the faculty, students, and leadership are very nice, collaborative, and genuine people.

Bonus: I like that the department has a strong reputation in antenna engineering starting with Dr. Stutzman’s work. His book is my favorite antenna engineering book. 

What’s your favorite thing about being a professor/faculty member?

I like that I am able to be a positive influence for my students. I remember the faculty that made an impact on me during my career development, and how monumental they were to the path I took. I also love that I’m free to pursue my research interests (whatever crazy ideas that they may be) and that feeling that I may be onto something new and potentially impactful--or even revolutionary.

What does your research entail? What do you hope will come of it?

My research focuses specifically on metasurfaces and metamaterials. When light interacts with the atoms in a natural substance, different processes such as scattering and absorption are what make the object appear as it does to the observer. Imagine being able to create and design matter atom by atom in order to engineer a specific response to light. This concept can be used to create electromagnetic or optical illusions. For example, a solid object with its surface altered in a particular way could appear to the observer as a completely different object.

Picture this: you try to pick up an object and fumble because it appears to be a sphere but it is actually a small cube. In my lab, we work on the technologies that make these kinds of illusions possible, from microwave and RF frequencies to infrared wavelengths. We are designing antennas, flat lenses, metasurfaces for cloaking, illusions, or camouflage for military applications, and smart surfaces for channel optimization in 5G/6G communications systems.

What originally got you interested in your work and/or research?

I originally got into electromagnetics because it was the most difficult subject and I love a challenge. I also love mathematics. Those two disciplines are synergetic. When I first got into electrical engineering, I always thought it was really cool to be able to grow matter atom by atom in nano-fabrication.

I also loved radiation, antennas and Maxwell’s equations. Metamaterials allowed me to connect these two ideas. Finally, I really like the idea of being able to engineer human perception--at present we apply these ideas to much lower frequencies, but this is where the work could potentially be headed.

What advice do you have for students looking to join the electrical and computer engineering field?

My advice is to pay attention to the fundamental courses and really try to learn the concepts. When they are first presented to you, they are like tools such as a screwdriver or hammer. You may not see at that time, but with those fundamentals you will eventually be able to build a house. In the end, a good researcher has a solid grasp of the fundamentals and can draw upon them to be creative. Above all, ask questions and engage in your courses and work.