Jessica Bickel, BS ’04, shares her memories as an undergraduate in the Johns Hopkins Department of Materials Science and Engineering and discusses her current research efforts.More
Dr. Robert Oberle ’94, Q&A
Dr. Robert Oberle earned both his Master’s and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. As a graduate student, he worked in the research lab of Professor Robert Cammarata. Since graduating, Dr. Oberle has gone on to found Vizinex RFID, which specializes in developing and manufacturing high-performance, durable RFID tags for an array of industries. We had an opportunity to interview him about his time at Hopkins and his present work.
What research projects were you involved in while you were at Johns Hopkins?
At the time Prof. Cammarata’s group was focused on the effect of interfacial phenomenon on mechanical properties of solids especially at very short length scales. In addition to working with Bob’s other students I investigated the mechanical properties of multi-layered alloys produced by electrodeposition, looking to see if properties of the materials was enhance as the layering approached nanometer-scale.
Do you have any memories that stand out from the classroom or research lab?
At the time investigation of nano-structured materials was just starting and there was a great deal of excitement about how structures could be created and manipulated at the nanometer length scale. Bob’s group collaborated with many others in the various departments at Hopkins and beyond and was very much at the forefront of research in the area. At the same time it was fairly early in Bob’s career and he was just starting to become established. His other students and I would often have to be quite creative about how to work with limited resources.
How did you get involved with RFID technology?
I started a business with a fabrication technology I developed working for a development team in a large company. The technology lent itself to entry into what was then an emerging market. Not to be trite but it was a case of being in the right place at the right time with the right tool.
What kind of work does Vizinex RFID do?
Vizinex RFID specializes in developing and manufacturing high-performance, durable RFID tags for an array of industries, including IT equipment, medical devices, oil and gas, manufacturing and more. When working with a client, we pay particular attention to their pain points and focus on solving difficult problems with the use of radio frequency identification in a cost-effective, meaningful manner.
What inspired you to found Vizinex RFID?
Vizinex is founded on a collaboration of ideas from all its founders, and is an evolution of the original company I founded, RCD Technology. As the technology and markets have changed we changed our product and capability mix to remain competitive.
Do you have any advice for aspiring materials scientists or engineers?
While I often apply the training acquired at Hopkins, I have found that it is absolutely vital to acquire and develop new skills to stay relevant. For those of us who work in small business we often have to be very agile and accommodating to challenges, I would encourage new engineers and scientists to be flexible and ready to find opportunity in unfamiliar territory.
Oberle holds a master’s degree and doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in Materials Science and Engineering. He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Under his leadership, Vizinex RFID has been awarded numerous US and foreign patents. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Oberle now lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with his family.