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Dr. Paul Berger ’81 Illustrates the Life of an Electrical Engineer

Speaking about his latest work to develop fully automated smart kitchens and phones that only need to be charged once a week, Dr. Paul Berger ’81, brought to life the career of an electrical engineer during his talk to the Physics and Robotics Club on Monday night.

Berger, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State University, said “How cool would it be to have a cellphone that you only have to charge once a week? We’re trying to make the circuits more energy thrifty because battery scientists aren’t really doing their job.”

Berger also detailed his latest project in which he hopes to reduce power consumption in phones. He is developing more efficient transistors and memory in microprocessor chips, the technology used in phone circuits.

Berger was honored last year with the “Outstanding Engineering Educator Award” from Franklin County Chapter of the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers.

His teaching method is rather unusual, Berger said. “I really try to pin what we’re learning in class to the real world. I will try to join the dots and relate it to a device that you use everyday, it’s the charging circuitry in your cell phone, this is why it matters,” he said.

“I tend to throw my undergraduates in the lake and see if they swim. They either quit or they thrive. I told them one day, build me a graphene reactor, they went and built an entire delivery system, [one that produces and ejects single sheets of carbon], winning the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum twice,” he continued.

Berger’s teaching style shifts the educational focus away from number crunching and towards communicating.

“If you can’t communicate, your brilliant ideas have no value. I actually am notorious for giving essay questions. I want to make sure you get the big pictures,” he said.

After graduating from Andover in 1981, Berger went on to the University of Michigan and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering. Since then, Berger has worked across the globe, teaching at University of Delaware and doing research projects in Germany, England and Belgium.

“When I was [at Andover], engineering was not thought of as a career… what I would like to advocate is that engineering really makes the world work. Engineers are the ones who makes the trains and cars run, everything you take you granted in society I argue comes from engineers,” said Berger.

“We need innovators. Engineering is really the driver, you need to have the innovators creating those if you don’t have a core of really good engineers developing then your company is doomed. We need young professionals to consider these disciplines, continued Berger.

Carson Wardell ’16, Co-head of the Physics club, said,“I better understood the trials and tribulations of research I didn’t understand how much work and failure went into technological advances.”