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Microwave and RF Engineering

What are microwaves and RF, and what is the difference? "Microwaves" and "radio frequency (RF)" are used interchangeably, although RF is often used to refer to lower frequencies (< 1GHz) and microwaves to higher frequencies (1 GHz to several hundred GHz). Frequencies above about 30 GHz are also called millimeter waves, because above 30 GHz until about 300 GHz the wavelength is measured on the scale of a mm. A more appropriate definition of RF and microwaves is any frequency range where a wavelength is on the same order of magnitude as the size of the circuit elements. At very long wavelengths, Kirchoff's laws govern a circuit. At very short wavelengths, optics is in charge. Microwaves are in between.
What do microwave and RF engineers do?

A wide range of specialties exist within microwaves. Here are some common examples:

  • Design passives such as antennas and filters
  • Design actives such as amplifiers and oscillators
  • Design subsystems such as heterodyne receivers
  • Layout and optimize a cellular wireless network
  • Design or maintain a radio telescope
  • Do research on guided waves
  • Design aircraft avionics and radar

What are the career possibilities?

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How do I start a career in microwaves and RF?
  • Work in the Microwave Lab at Hope College
  • Major in physics or electrical engineering
  • Work in the Microwave Lab at Hope College
  • Take courses in electromagnetics and electronics, and really pay attantion when covering high frequency design and electromagnetic waves
  • Work in the Microwave Lab at Hope College
  • Join the IEEE Microwave Theory and Technique Society (IEEE-MTTS)
  • Work in the Microwave Lab at Hope College

Click here to find out about how you can get involved in RF and microwaves right here at Hope College - and maybe even get paid while you learn.