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An Interdisciplinary Approach

What do control systems have to do with hearing aids? Patrick Hart can explain.

As a graduate student in electric and computer engineering at the Watson School, Patrick Hart has formed some surprising professional partnerships.

"Currently I'm working in the mechanical engineering department with Dr. Ron Miles," he says. "We're working on a cross-departmental project to develop directional microphones that could be used in hearing aids and other applications. My role in the project is to develop a control system to make sure the microphone has a very low noise floor."

Hart is quick to point out that the microphone project is just one of several "cool things" he's working on at Watson. With funding from the United States Air Force, he's also researching the effects of broken communication links on the work of field agents. "If you have agents in the field, searching for a target, what would happen if they lost contact for an extended period of time?"

Hart, who entered the master's program after earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Watson, says the decision to stay at Watson was an easy one. "I thought about going somewhere else, but honestly it wasn't worth it," he says. "My professors here at Watson were doing really interesting stuff, and I didn't want to miss out."

Once he completes his master's degree, Hart plans to pursue a doctorate and then work as an engineer, or maybe stay in academia. Wherever he ends up, though, he appreciates the interdisciplinary approach he encountered at Watson.

"Engineering in the 21st century means working with all kinds of people," Hart notes. "At Watson, I've partnered with people in a whole range of disciplines, from mechanical engineering to computer science. It's good to get that experience now-before I graduate and start working in the field."

Last Updated: 11/26/13