James Alspaw

January 19, 2024

Portrait of James Alspaw

James Alspaw

Area of Study
Electrical Engineering, Master’s

Faculty Advisor
Syed Kamrul Islam

Why did you decide to pursue the Accelerated Master’s program?
I pursued the Accelerated Master’s program primarily to enhance my marketability in the engineering field. Holding a master’s degree not only equips me with the necessary experience to begin my career at a more advanced level, such as a level 2 engineer, but it also significantly boosts my earning potential. Additionally, this degree opens up opportunities to specialize in high-demand, niche areas like Integrated Circuit (IC) design, roles that are often not accessible to those with only a bachelor’s degree. Another compelling factor in my decision was the opportunity to secure a Teaching Assistant (TA) position. This position not only provided valuable experience but also covered the financial aspect of the program, allowing me to complete my master’s without incurring additional debt. This blend of practical, financial and career-oriented benefits made the Accelerated Master’s program an ideal choice for me.

Tell us about your graduate research. What are some potential outcomes?
My research during my graduate studies centered on the field of RF Energy Harvesting. This process involves gathering RF signals from the environment and converting them into a usable DC voltage. The power obtained through this method can be employed to extend the life of batteries or to operate small sensors, making it applicable across numerous industries. The typical system for RF Energy Harvesting includes components such as an antenna, a rectifier, and a power management module. Given that the RF signals captured are of ultra-low power, it’s crucial for each component of the system to operate with high efficiency. My specific area of research was dedicated to the design of low-power CMOS rectifiers, particularly at the 180nm technology node.

What are some accomplishments you’ve achieved during the accelerated program at Mizzou that you’re especially proud of?
My biggest accomplishment was being able to enhance existing rectifier designs in my research and be able to teach the Circuits 1 lab sections.

Why should undergraduate students consider continuing in the Accelerated Master’s program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science?
Increased marketability. A master’s degree gives you the experience equivalent of two years of industry allowing you to start as a level 2 engineer. When applying to internships and full-time positions, I received many more responses to my application.
Value. Only one year of graduate tuition costs. This can be greatly subsidized if one looks for a position within the college.

What would you tell others about Mizzou Engineering?
Mizzou Engineering is known for its comprehensive and diverse engineering programs, providing a solid foundation in both theory and practical skills. The university emphasizes hands-on learning, with facilities that support real-world engineering challenges. Additionally, the faculty are not only knowledgeable but also committed to student success, creating a supportive learning environment.