Hum, Mr. Sean

2006 Winner: Leaders of Tomorrow

The PhD Candidate That Can Do It All

Sean Hum definitely likes a fast pace. While working on his doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Calgary, he was a race strategist for the U of C’s Soleon Solar Car Team, captained a dragon boat and founded a new student society.

Mr. Hum’s graduate work has been diverse. While working for TRLabs, he focused his M.Sc. research on an optical modulator for radio-on-fiber applications.  The structure he designed enhances the response of electro-optic modulators and improves the performance of optical radio systems. He received a Governor General’s Gold medal for his thesis, while his design led to a U.S. patent.

Groundbreaking Work

His PhD research took him into an entirely different area – tunable reflectarrays, an architecture used in antenna technology. Until recently, the element phasing of reflectarrays was limited to 180°, but Mr. Hum’s work allowed the elements to be tuned to almost a full 360°, a breakthrough in this technology. His project gained worldwide recognition and won second place in the prestigious 2004 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium (AP-S) student paper competition.

Mr. Hum is now regarded as a pioneer in tunable reflectarrays and a leader in this research internationally. His antenna will likely become an important part of novel airborne, wireless and security applications and systems.

Part of the Team

In 2005, Mr. Hum was recruited as the first member of the University of Calgary’s solar car team. The 4,000-km race started in Austin, Texas and finished, for the first time, at the University of Calgary. The Calgary team had nine months to design, build and prepare the solar car. As Race Engineer Manager, Mr. Hum was responsible for vehicle testing, driver training, safety, and race strategy.

Using mathematical models and scenario training, Mr. Hum developed sophisticated strategy and tracking software to process the vehicle telemetry and vehicle speed during the race. The rookie Calgary team finished 13th, and was the second fastest Canadian entry behind the University of Waterloo.

Mr. Hum recently founded the Future Innovators and Educators of the Schulich School of Engineering (FINESSE) Society, which he currently chairs. The purpose of FINESSE is to provide graduate and undergraduate students looking at academic careers with monthly seminars and presentations on relevant subjects, giving them a taste of teaching; research and service work in academic professions.