By David Murphy, KAUST News
Muhammad Akram Karimi, a fourth-year KAUST Ph.D. student working in the Integrated Microwaves Packaging Antennas & Circuits Technology (IMPACT) Lab headed by Associate Professor Atif Shamim, won the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held during the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society's International Microwave Symposium (IMS2019) in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S, in early June. IEEE IMS has been taking place for 60 years, and it is the flagship conference for microwave engineers and scientists.
The 3MT format, which was developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2008, aims to improve and refine students' academic, presentation and research communication skills. As per the 3MT competition guidelines, participating students presented and explained their research to attendees in an effective manner over a three-minute period.
Karimi's presentation titled "Making Materials Smart Using Microwaves" won from a pool of 23 fellow student finalists.
"This year, 60 papers were initially shortlisted for the 3MT competition," Karimi noted. "For further screening, we had to make a 30-second short video about the research work, which was reviewed by the Technical Program Committee (TPC). Based on TPC recommendations, 23 candidates were shortlisted to compete at the conference venue. Getting shortlisted among the top 23 candidates [was] an honor in itself."
"Presenting one's work to a huge audience with a wide range of backgrounds in just three minutes is the essence of the competition," he continued. "Standing first [among] the candidates from high-profile universities like Georgia Tech and MIT gives me a...good feeling. I am humbled as well as honored to receive this prestigious award."
Printed microwave sensors for the oil and water industries
Karimi's KAUST thesis research is focused on developing low-cost in situ microwave sensors with various applications in the oil and water industries. The speciality of these sensors is that they can be printed on any surface, such as on a pipe or on pipe joints. This helps in realizing low-cost sensors that are conformal to the surfaces on which they are printed.
In the first part of his thesis, Karimi—in collaboration with Saudi Aramco—tackled an important problem for the oil industry , which is the detection of the water fraction mixed in oil during the oil production process. The water fraction sensor Karimi developed can be printed directly on a pipe's surface and functions with high accuracy in a non-intrusive manner without the need of bulky mixers. The innovative design won the best paper award at IEEE IMS2016. Karimi was also part of the team that produced the invention which received the King Prize for the most useful invention for the Kingdom in late 2018.
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