Faculty Q&A: Charbel Rizk

December 22, 2016

Charbel Rizk

Dr. Charbel G. Rizk is an associate research professor and lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

What made you interested in science?

I can’t really remember, but I was doing well in math and science early on without having to study much, so I guess I took the path of least resistance.

What groups/extracurricular activities did you participate in while studying in college?

As undergrad, played soccer regularly, founded and led the Lebanese American club, volunteered as tutor for students on probation in the department, was active member of the Newman center, participated in bible study groups, worked as security guard for the football and basketball games, got best seats and was paid to watch the games :). I could not afford to live in the dorms, so I lived off campus, about 3 miles away, and used my bike for transportation. So, biking back and forth to school, supermarket, everywhere I needed to go consumed a good amount of my every day. However, in my last semester, I won an undergraduate research award from NASA.

What made you decide to focus on engineering?

Growing up in Lebanon, engineering was pretty much the default choice for those who were strong in science and math, and I like to solve problems, so didn’t much think about it.

What are your biggest research accomplishments?

As a grad student, I led a small team that designed, built, and demonstrated the first quad copter UAV (drone) in the world and is currently the most common design used. I’ve been leading the research on infrared imaging readout technology known as FRIS (Flexible Readout and Integration Sensor) for over a dozen years. Our successful work has and will continue to influence the research in this space.

What are you looking forward to focusing on in the future?

There are multiple challenging, but very promising, research areas that are likely to define the path and enable the next revolution in sensing and robotics. I’m also developing a new exciting design course and working with other faculty and external collaborators on a graduate level infrared imaging and technology course. To encourage more innovation, entrepreneurship, and/or undergraduate research, we formed a team of stakeholders and developed the new I3 Series with a launch event scheduled for Feb 2017. I believe education and research complement each other and should be tightly integrated and on par for best results.

What advice would you give students who are interested in engineering?

My most important advice is the same advice to any student, aim to be the “best version of yourself” and focus on learning, not grades. Success in the first pretty much guarantees the outcome for the second one, but the reverse is not always true.

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