Alumni Focus: Jhonathan Prieto Rojas, M.S. 2010, Ph.D. 2014 - electrical engineering

-By David Murphy

Jhonathan Prieto Rojas joined KAUST in 2009 from the National University of Colombia in Bogota and completed both his master's degree (2010) and Ph.D. (2014) in electrical engineering at the University under the supervision of Professor Muhammad Mustafa Hussain. Prieto Rojas spent six years at KAUST before leaving the University in August of 2015 for his current role as an assistant professor in the electrical engineering department at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran.

"I joined KFUPM with the objective and conviction of continuing my research into the many fascinating subjects that I first encountered during my master's and Ph.D. studies at KAUST. Furthermore, the teaching experience has been very gratifying, and thanks to it, I actually find myself learning more and more every day," he said.

The main driving force behind Prieto Rojas' decision to join KAUST was that he saw a great opportunity to explore a different culture and be part of a unique experience.

"My experience at KAUST was full of many discoveries and academic challenges that helped me mature a lot. The incredibly rich and diverse community of the University let me discover, interact and learn from many cultures around the world, which made the experience much more rewarding," he said.

At KAUST, Prieto Rojas' work was focused on using micro and nanofabrication techniques to build and develop novel structures, architectures and devices for new and exciting applications in diverse areas.

"During my master's degree, I fabricated a miniature micro-reactor incorporating carbon nanotubes to produce energy out of common bacteria found in wastewater while decomposing organic matter - it is called a micro-sized microbial fuel cell. During my Ph.D., I mainly focused on the development of an innovative process to create flexible electronics out of conventional rigid microchips," he said.

Prieto Rojas feels his time at the University gave him the scope to develop professionally and invest in a career in academia, and it also afforded him time to create a network of people and opportunities that help him to further his career.

"Professor Hussain was definitely a great inspiration and always encouraged me to be successful. Moreover, the fact that I had access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment was extremely helpful, and I always felt privileged to have access to all of those resources," he noted.

"For the students about to graduate-many challenges await, but the same hard work, enthusiasm and the sense of adventure that brought you to KAUST will help you to overcome any challenge ahead and let you become a successful person and professional," he concluded.