Undergraduate Research Program

Usman Khan

Usman Khan sitting on bench in a suit

Mentor:Josh Smith, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering


Current research project:3D Mapping Wireless Power for Neural Implants






Usman is a junior studying Electrical Engineering. Interested in research at the intersection of applied physics and computer science, he takes on projects regarding electromagnetics and wireless power for biomedical and IoT applications. He is passionate about enabling and inspiring others’ creativity and innovation. Hence, his research projects have focused on building tools that other researchers and engineers in the field can use as well. Usman’s curiosity has led him to start the ILMTECH Podcast, a podcast casually interviewing professors about their knowledge and research.

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance.

The “3DEVS,” a platform that maps and creates visualizations of magnetic fields that wireless power devices create, is aimed at enabling the development of wirelessly powered neural implants. These implants would send electrical signals to stimulate the spinal cords of patients who suffer from paralysis, helping them regain some movement. Developing these implants is very mathematically complex, so without the 3DEVS, it’s like trying to draw a picture with a blindfold on. The 3DEVS removes this blindfold and allows for rapid development, debugging, and progress in the field.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I got involved Spring Quarter of my freshman year. I had heard about the Sensor System’s Lab and greatly admired their ability to succeed in so many different fields. As someone with so many interests, that appealed to me. After emailing the PI requesting to talk and ask some questions about his work, I was offered a position under a graduate student. I joined research because I didn’t want to be constrained to just one thing. I wanted to push my intellectual boundaries and be able to apply physics and computer science to build a range of engineering solutions. I wanted to produce meaningful and relevant work, and I wanted the ability to work on whatever I thought was cool.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

My advice to a student considering undergraduate research would be to not hesitate and get involved early. The earlier you start, the more time you have to learn and adjust and reap benefits. My other piece of advice is to always ask questions and ask others for help. You don’t have to be a genius and figure things out yourself; you just have to be able to talk to geniuses.