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Mr. Mehmet Parlak, please tell us a little about yourself, your work at Broadcom, your interest areas?

I did my bachelor’s degree at Middle East Technical University, Ankara which had a significant impact in my engineering career. Following my degree, I started my M.Sc. in TU Munich, and then decided to continue for a PhD degree at UC San Diego, in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I was so lucky to have brilliant professors around me through my entire education, especially at UC San Diego, all very well known in the IEEE community. They helped me to bring the best out of myself and I was able to publish significant number of diverse publications on next generation pulse radar beamforming systems for the imaging and surveillance sensors and satellite systems.

At the same time, I was able to pursue my education at Rady Undergrad School of Business and enroll in certificate programs of vonLiebig Entrepreneurship center and compete in business plan competitions. Before and during my graduate studies, I held circuit and system design engineering positions at Nokia Siemens and Panasonic Corporations.

Currently, I work at Broadcom while completing my MBA at Paul Merage School of UC Irvine. I have focused on the transceiver design for mm-wave backhaul for a few years and I currently work in the research, design and development of industry’s first robust, cost-effective wireless mesh chipset solution at 60GHz (60G WiMesh) for wireless infrastructure applications, including mobile backhaul and wireless access points, addressing the “last-mile problem” for wireless infrastructure, based on innovative steerable beamforming technology.

How did you get involved with IEEE? What or who brought you to this organization? How and what has been your experience volunteering for IEEE MTT Society

I first got involved in IEEE as a student member in my undergraduate years. We had a student branch at the top floor of our department, where we were mainly focused in robotics. I continued my membership during the graduate school in Munich but I became more active after joining UC San Diego, participating in IMS and RFIC conferences as a student volunteer during 2009-2011, later published more than 10 IEEE publications in the last two years of my graduate studies and joined several conferences including IMS, RFIC, CSICS, CICC, RadarCon. I reviewed and keep reviewing significant number of manuscripts and I am planning to volunteer more in organizing the IMS / RFIC conferences in the upcoming years.

As a Young Professional, what are some things/initiatives or projects you think could be improved, or can be introduced?

Hands on experience closing the gap between theory and practice is crucial. IEEE and engineering departments of the universities should focus on providing engineering students with hands on experience which can boost the confidence of young individuals in building systems and motivate them in starting and leading start-up companies. Undergraduate programs should match the abilities of students with corresponding classes and programs. It makes more sense to cater the education to the specifics. Problem solving and understanding of the tools used to solve the problems shall be taught. The engineering work done should be for practical matters, i.e. senior projects should target the real world problems.

Could you tell us more about your views on Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

An entrepreneur is anyone who starts a business; but not necessarily the kinds of businesses that are the true growth engines of our economy. Innovation adds value to our lives and to our economy but most importantly, it brings new solutions to the problems we face in daily life. That’s why our world needs more innovative entrepreneurs who act and think different to truly make a difference. In short, entrepreneurship is good for one, innovation is for the entire race.

As I understand it, your venture Radiofast is a hardware based startup in the RF space. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

©RADIOFAST Microsystems demonstrates ultra-wideband silicon front-ends and high-resolution, high-sensitivity, low-power, low-cost systems for imaging sensors for less intrusive healthcare diagnostics and security imaging market. The venture is launched by me, based on my PhD dissertation research during my graduate studies at UC San Diego. The front end and baseband silicon integrated circuits proposed for low-cost future generation mm-wave imaging sensors demonstrated ultra-wideband (1-110GHz), high-performance and low power operation in the lab. The innovative designs were proposed for a truly innovative and less-intrusive millimeter (mm)-wave imaging sensor technology for medical and security imaging markets. In addition to innovative research, I conducted fundamental marketing and sales research on the medical and security imaging, wrote business plans for the competitions, and pitched them to VCs. We won business plan competitions at UCSD Entrepreneur Challenge, received $30K in cash and legal services to secure the IP of the technology for low cost imaging sensors for healthcare diagnostics and security applications.

Could you share some of the challenges faced and insights drawn from your experiences building a hardware startup?

Building hardware is hard. Building a hardware startup is even harder. For instance, 60GHz transceivers are introduced into the market nine years ago with the hope that market will grab the value. Companies built several transceivers in several transistor nodes in the last 12 years. And market is still not ready to include the 60GHz technology in the products. While technology nodes are shrinking, the engineers are putting in more effort to design them in the next smaller nodes, i.e. 16-20nm as of now. From my experience, until it is proved that there is an actual market for the product, the research and development should be minimized to prevent the wasted efforts. In other words, innovation is not necessarily bringing success immediately but until the right time. Radiofast innovated circuits for sub-THz imaging systems however market will not be ready for sub-THz mobile imaging until 2020s although I believe sub-THz imaging will potentially revolutionize the medical and security imaging eventually in the future. But it is really hard to estimate exactly when. When will the market be ready? This is the biggest question and challenge of every innovative design company including Radiofast. Other than that, it is hard staying completely self-funded since the investment required is huge. And when you raise the money through several funding opportunities, you are subject to lose the control of your start-up as well.

Have you personally benefited from IEEE? How?

I use Xplore digital library in my daily career life and the high quality publications written by my colleagues provide me just the right mentorship for my designs. The several conferences I get to join introduce me to the brilliant minds in this community. I had invaluable friendships through this community.

What suggestions would you give out to a Young Professional, who is not an IEEE member and seeks information on “Why she/he should be one?”

IEEE is a society not only for electrical engineers but also for those who are interested in electrical engineering. IEEE hosts the best brains in it. Not only professional networking but also numerous friendships through this community will provide with numerous advantages in the young professional’s career and daily life. He will start to dream big for a world with full of innovations that improve our daily life and solve the problems of the humanity.

~ Edited and reported by Kiran Rajmohan