The habit of moving vigorously around
One of the things Rod Bayliss III ’20, MEng ’21, remembers from his childhood was his father’s 1964 Ford Mustang. “I was amazed at the car,” Bayliss said. “Especially in the engine, this thing that converts oxygen and fuel into electricity.”
Bayliss grew up in Augusta, Georgia. Mathematics and physics came to him quickly, and in high school he developed a love of Latin, Greek, and debate. “I really like Latin grammar,” he recalls, “with declarations that allow you to move words into a sentence. It reminds me of solving engineering problems.”
Bayliss’s parents, both of whom have engineering degrees, encouraged him to consider career opportunities in electrical engineering. At MIT, he signed up to collaborate with professor David Perreault, SM ’91, PhD ’97, on his electrical research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
“At the time I still thought I wanted to work on machines,” Bayliss said. “But in that UROP I discovered electric electronics. The habit of moving energy around. That’s the name of the game, and I like it.”
After learning how electrical energy is grown, stored, and converted, he began working on an inductor-a device that stores a lot of magnetic energy-that could generate powerful radio waves, an important one. element of the etching process of ultrafine silicon chips “You put the gas in a chamber and then use radio waves to phase-change the gas into plasma,” he explains. “Then you focus the plasma to do the engraving. The process takes a lot of energy.”
After completing his undergraduate degree in three and a half years, Bayliss remained at MIT – and continued to perfect his inductor – for an additional year, earning a master’s in January 2021. He is currently in a doctoral program at University of California, Berkeley.
Well, he’s back to his first crush on engineering: motors. Specifically, he was researching new ways of storing electrical energy and converting it into a form that could reliably operate an airplane engine. In March of the Black Alumni / ae at MIT (BAMIT) slam in research, an online competition where alumni put their research to a panel of judges, this work won the Bayliss first prize.
Bayliss knows the purpose is complicated. “It’s uniquely more challenging to run an airplane with electricity than fossil fuels,” he said. “The batteries are heavy. And the consequences of system failure-from the battery to the inverter to the motor-in the middle of the wind can be devastating. But we’re going to make good electronics power. ”