Dr Dad: The Struggle of Being the Prof's Kid

Good ol' chalkboard design

Towards the end of high-school people always asked me one seemingly simple question, "What are you going to study at university?". For me it wasn't always as easy a question as I originally thought. My choice of university was pretty obvious with my father being a professor at my local university, the tuition reduction was sufficient that very large scholarships from other schools would need to happen before I would even consider elsewhere. 
With my university effectively picked, now all I needed to do was pick a program. I had always leaned heavily towards STEM fields. Math, science and building things had always intrigued me since I was young. This helped me narrow down my choices down to an engineering discipline. 

Looking at built in waveforms from the FMCOMMS4 RF transceiver

By grade twelve I had selected either chemical or electrical engineering. At that stage it was a pretty even choice but I ended up going with chemical, the reason being that I wished to avoid having my father as a professor since he is an ECE prof. 

Summer rolled around and I worried more and more about my choice of chem. eng. A few weeks before the start of the semester I emailed the enrollment office and changed to electrical. This was a choice that I wouldn't regret. Electrical is much more interesting (in my opinion). 

First year flew by. Second year rolled around and a class I had been dreading came around with it. There is a numerical methods course for electrical engineering and it is taught my none other than my father. 

Amplifiers getting mounted on our custom antenna.

At this point in my university experience, most of my class mates didn't know that he was my father. I wanted to keep it that way. My friends obviously knew but I tried to keep it to a minimum. In this class when I wanted to ask or answer questions I would simply raise my hand and wait. None of this "Dr Colpitts" or "Professor". I didn't want to say dad, father or anything. 

It was weird at first but after a few weeks it because pretty normal. Many times my dad and I would joke about me asking my parents for help with my homework. There were always frequent complaints about this one professor. Tall, balding, teaches me numerical methods and MAN WAS HE AWFUL. Emailing my dad about the course if I was away was always amusing. 

With your dad being the addressee of the email really opens up a whole new world of email signatures. My favorite was Dear Dr Dad. After enough emails addressed like that, he did start signing his emails to me in such a manner.

Lucky for me I did well in the course and wasn't disowned. Only problem was that the numerical methods course was relatively easy. The tougher course would be electromagnetic that I would have with my dad the next year. It wasn't as bad as expected. If I recall correctly my dad graded my tests during the year but had another prof compare them. I think the other prof even marked my exam and compared my answers and grade to 20+ other students from the course. 

Engineers gotta be ethical right? I can guarantee the conflict of interest was dealt with. Fortunately it seems that in my city electrical engineering professors have electrical engineering children. I believe that I am the third or fourth prof's kid in the department in recent years so they were pretty comfortable with how to handle things at this point. 

Radio transceiver card for our Xilinx FPGA. More on this next week (I hope)!

Update on UAV System:
We have gotten our FPGA (FINALLY) and FMCOMMS4 external radio card. I have been playing around with PN sequences, specifically Frank-Heimiller sequences since the RF card will take both I and Q signals to transmit. But now we are going to be looking at custom PN sequences with a carefully selected correlation property. Check out my last post about it here.



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