Esosa Ekhoragbon and Dan Aloi standing in front of a car outside

Research Endeavors|


icon of a calendarNovember 20, 2019

icon of a pencilBy Patrick Dunn

Strengthening the Signal

OU grad makes sure car antennas are up to snuff

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Robert Hall

From GPS data to phone calls, the modern car antenna transmits far more than just FM and AM radio signals. And at OU, graduate student Esosa Ekhoragbon is one of the people who makes sure these crucial functions work correctly. 

Ekhoragbon, who is pursuing a Master of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering, is a graduate research assistant in OU’s Applied Electromagnetics and Wireless Lab (AEWL). The lab includes both an outdoor antenna range and an indoor antenna anechoic chamber used to test car antennas. Its services are used by a variety of area automakers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

“It’s very hands-on,” Ekhoragbon says. “We’re solving a real problem.”Photo of Esosa Ekbhoragbon

Ekhoragbon comes to OU from his home country of Nigeria, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Benin. He’s loved technology from a young age, but when it came time to consider grad schools he was interested in studying somewhere he could work on real-world problems. The opportunity to work with numerous major companies at the AEWL proved an ideal fit for him.

“I’m in a really good location,” Ekhoragbon says. “Auburn Hills and Rochester are close to the industry. That’s really how I made the final decision.”

He says his work at AEWL so far has been “intense,” due to the rigorous testing required to ensure the products he’s working on are ready for consumers. But Ekhoragbon relishes that challenge. He and his fellow students work closely with automakers and OEMs, not just running tests but also offering analysis and input on the results to help their clients solve problems.

“We’re helping them to achieve their goals,” he says. “It makes you feel good, being a part of the process of new technology.”

AEWL director Dan Aloi says people often assume that his work entails “punching away at a computer or reading books, coming up with formulas.” But in actuality, he says his students are working with “very high-end equipment” and using interpersonal skills to communicate with major companies who might one day offer them a job. 

Ekhoragbon’s experience moving from Nigeria to America has been eye-opening. He praises the well-equipped labs and ample resources available to him at OU, as well as the opportunity to work with hands-on projects at AEWL. 

But as in Nigeria, he’s also notices broader social challenges – and works to address them. At home, he volunteered with the Girl-LEAD Project, which provides much-needed entrepreneurial education to young Nigerian women, as well as AIESEC, an international youth-run organization that provides young people with leadership development skills, and ImpactLabs Nigeria, a program that works with students to develop engineering solutions for targeted communities. And he spent his spring break helping homeless people in Los Angeles’ Skid Row as a volunteer with OU’s International Oasis program.

“Coming from a developing country, we have lots of problems, too. I see these things every day,” Ekhoragbon says. “But in America, some people don’t believe things like that exist. Being able to go [to Skid Row] and see for myself what was happening, I was able to do something and contribute to an extent.”

Ekhoragbon aspires to continue making the world a better place – and to eventually pursue a Ph.D, ideally while continuing to work closely with industry. But he doesn’t anticipate moving any time soon. He says he hopes to stay in Michigan, praising the state’s combination of major career opportunities and a “peaceful” environment. 

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