PUCP Professor Receives “Eminent Engineer” Award from IEEE Latin America

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the largest technical professional organization in the world focused on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Every year, this association awards professionals who make significant contributions that are coherent with the IEEE’s vision. In this sense, in March, the IEEE Awards Committee decided to award Dr. Carlos Silva Cardenas as Eminent Engineer of the IEEE Latin America, in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to research and training of human resources in the area of ​​microelectronics”.

Dr. Carlos Silva Cardenas is one of the professors of the Telecommunications Engineering section and director of the Master’s program of said specialty. His career as a professor at the PUCP began in 1990, when he also was the first specialty coordinator of the then nascent Section of Electronic Engineering. Two years later, after receiving training from the OAS to be part of a program to support microelectronics, Dr. Silva received an invitation from the Ibero-American Program of Science and Technology for Development (Cyted) to develop microelectronics through various projects, and that is how he started working on the creation of a relatively simple multiplexer. Our professor designed a multiplexer with two inputs and one output, which was manufactured in Europe and tested in Campinas (Brazil). This was the first time an integrated circuit was created in Peru, so Dr. Silva became the pioneer of microelectronics in our country.

The creation of this first chip occurred in a context in which no research group had yet been founded in the Engineering Department of our university, which, for Dr. Silva, was a reflection of how modest research was in our country: “Universities are meant to be institutions that contribute to knowledge, and the most efficient way to do that is through research. However, research, not only at the PUCP, but in Peruvian universities in general, was carried out on a very small scale, especially in engineering. Therefore, universities were not fulfilling their role” he mentions in this regard. In this sense, motivated by this desire to contribute to university education, he founded the Microelectronics Research Group in 1992 (GuE).

As Dr. Silva points out, these types of groups, usually, are made up of postgraduate students. However, since our university did not offer postgraduate studies in engineering at the time, the group was founded with 7 undergraduate students who were selected from a group of around 50 applicants. With them, he created a second chip with a much larger number of transistors than the first, and this collaborative work was reflected in the development of other models, better than the previous ones. In a span of 6 years, “90% of the integrated circuits that were designed and manufactured were ours” says Dr. Silva.

The foundation of the GuE has not only contributed to the generation of publications, but also to “the formation of highly qualified and human resources validated by masters and doctorates”, which, for Dr. Silva, is the most valuable contribution that this research group offers to the development of electronic technology in the country. The professor has been responsible for promoting postgraduate studies of one third of the 170 students who have participated in the GuE, managing scholarships in prestigious universities in Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, England and the United States. In fact, this contribution to the training of human resources is one of the reasons why our researcher has been acknowledged as an eminent engineer by the IEEE Latin America. Another reason is that he has contributed to the generation and dissemination of knowledge through his numerous publications, product of his research in microelectronics, and that deserve special consideration in various universities and institutes in the Latin American region, where he is frequently invited to conferences on topics related to his areas of interest.

Dr. Silva is the first Peruvian engineer whose work is linked to research and teaching -and not focused on the industry itself – to which the IEEE has awarded the title of Eminent Engineer. On this topic, he points out that, although he is glad that his recognition constitutes a precedent for other colleagues also focused on research, it was never a goal: “I want to take this merit as a way to make the students who surround see that research can also give certain type of satisfactions, because this, at the end, is a personal satisfaction. But my work continues; I must continue with greater zeal doing what I do”.

Currently, besides from his permanent work in circuit design, Dr. Silva advices students on their theses, and there are two topics they are starting to investigate. “It has been noticed that particles coming from solar explosions, from outside the Earth, arrive with such energy that they manage to modify the behavior of the integrated circuits and this can be very serious depending on the device in which they are located, since they are present in practically every device we have” he mentions when talking about this first investigation. On the other hand, the second project is the product of an internship carried out at Texas A&M University, and consists of what is known as “energy harvesting”, which means, as the engineer explains, “capturing the energy that is around us to be able to feed devices of reduced consumption”. With this work, we hope to capture energy that we do not use and that is “at hand” – whether it’s kinetic, solar, RF, mechanical, etc. – to be able to feed the billions of devices that will characterize the Internet of Things era.

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