The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


In-Kind Giving Enhances Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Laboratories

In-Kind Giving Enhances Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Laboratories

Babak Fahimi

Dr. Babak Fahimi

Reduce, reuse, recycle. In-kind giving may be associated with contributing household goods or pantry donations to charity organizations, but a business’s excess inventory can also be used to promote research and provide up-to-date tools for education. Würth Elektronik Group, a German company which has a satellite office located in Dallas, recently contributed electronic parts and equipment to benefit laboratories at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Dr. Babak Fahimi and Dr. Ghanshyamsinh Gohil each selected specific components from a Würth Elektronik catalog. Fahimi is professor of electrical and computer engineering, a Distinguished Chair in Engineering and the director of the Renewable Energy and Vehicular Technology (REVT) laboratory. Gohil, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, directs the Power Electronics Laboratory.

“With this contribution, PhD and master’s students can now complete research through experimental validation,” Fahimi said. “Running accelerated tests is very important for improving power conversion, for testing new semiconductor devices and ensuring our power electronics converters used in microgrid applications work reliably under demanding conditions.”

The contribution also included a high quality storage rack for the Power Electronics Laboratory.

Ghanshyamsinh Gohil

Dr. Ghanshyamsinh Gohil

“We have requested a rack in addition to a few small electronic components, including film and ceramic capacitors, chip resistor kits, wireless power transfer coils and common-mode chokes,” Gohil said. “The rack will help us organize the components better and reduce our development time.”

Because the University conducts ongoing research, companies can use equipment and benefit from more experimental projects. Additionally, Fahimi emphasizes that in-kind giving can be particularly beneficial for laboratories because specialized components are difficult to procure.

“Most of all, I want to give a big thank you,” Fahimi said. “In the power electronics field, we have to build and test proof of concept prototypes. If companies can donate the testing equipment and resources we need from their excess, we will continue to improve our research and our programs. This will in turn improve perception of UT Dallas and the DFW area in general.”

Würth Elektronik Strategic Partnership Manager, Thibault Paillier, worked with Rod Wetterskog, assistant dean of corporate relations at the Jonsson School, to determine laboratory needs. Diana Aguirre, senior director of development at the Jonsson School, facilitated the conversation and arranged the in-kind donation.

Want to know more about in-kind giving? Contact Diana Aguirre to learn about opportunities to support Jonsson School programs.

According to Paillier, this donation is a win-win for Würth Elektronik. As the company produces electronics components, it will benefit long-term from introducing students to its parts and solutions.

“We are building brand awareness,” Paillier said. “Our company is well-known in Germany, but we are less well-known in the United States. The return on investment is tough to measure, but we know students might become our customers or even employees. We also benefit from the university’s ongoing research activities.”

WE LogoAdditionally, Würth Elektronik has collaborated with Texas Instruments Inc. to develop the TI-PMLK Würth Elektronik Edition, a learning kit for engineering students to study and understand the impact of magnetics in a power supply. Ultimately, they hope to reduce gaps between the university and industry by providing dedicated educational tools made by industry professionals.

“We realize we can help reduce that gap, by understanding students’ challenges as they are learning to use the components,” Paillier said. “We are mindful of making a good impact. We could put our resources elsewhere, but we want to help students access education.”

Wetterskog also wants to help companies to become involved in the school’s research and educational activities and notes that in-kind giving often begins as strategic partnership.

“Our goal is to make companies aware of the many ways they can support research and education,” Wetterskog said. “We notice a major difference in engagement when students are directly involved with industry, when they use up-to-date equipment and take on real-world projects. We always hope the relationship with companies can be mutually beneficial.”