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Author Spotlight

An interview with one of our esteemed authors—

Arik Brown


What is your background?

I majored in Electrical Engineering for my undergraduate studies at MIT graduating in 1993. I continued my education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where I earned my Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering majoring in Electromagnetics with a minor in Communications in 1995. I continued my focus on electromagnetics and completed my PhD in Electrical Engineering in 2000. My research at the University of Michigan was in the area of Computational Electromagnetics and focused on using the magnetic properties of ferromagnetic materials for steering phased arrays. I began my professional career at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems which is now Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. Over approximately twenty years, I have worked in various roles spanning Antenna Element Designer, Antenna Integrated Product Team Lead, Antenna Systems Analyst, Antenna Systems Lead, Systems Architect, Chief Engineer, and Chief Architect. I have worked on various applications including Radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Electronic Attack, SIGINT, and Comms. My experiences have involved Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESAs) and I have written and published two books on AESAs. I currently am a Senior Technical Staff member at RADA USA serving as the Senior Principal Radar Systems Architect.

What are the most profound changes you have seen in your field across your career?

Early in my career I worked on various IRAD projects that explored the art of the possible. At that time there was more government funding available to investigate technologies that did not have an attachment to a current technology and did not have a definitive end goal. Twenty years later, that is no longer the case as government spending has been reduced and more focused on improving current technologies that currently exist. At present, advanced concepts with a low TRL now must have a definitive business case and defined path for transition to a fieldable technology.

What motivated you to write Active Electronically Scanned Arrays: Fundamentals and Applications?

Wiley approached me about authoring another book on AESAs that was more of a foundational text that could be used for reference and teaching. At the time, I had not thought much about it, but it sparked an interest in me. I have been blessed to work on such an amazing technology and gain world class expertise on AESAs. I am a big proponent of sharing knowledge and I thought this was an incredible opportunity to do just that.

Who is the primary audience for Active Electronically Scanned Arrays: Fundamentals and Applications?

My book is geared towards both junior and senior engineers who need to understand the fundamental physics behind AESAs. It is also meant to serve as a reference book for senior technologists who need to understand the fundamental principles and design concepts.

What are the key challenges this audience faces?

As technology has advanced, we now have complex simulation tools, such as MATLAB, that can be used to model and design AESA systems. An issue I have seen is that younger engineers who do not possess a strong fundamental understanding of AESA concepts, are capable of modeling them, however younger engineers have no insight into the design and modeling results. For system solutions that do not have an obvious answer there is a struggle to understand how to modify designs based on a lack of understanding of the fundamentals.

How does your book solve this need/challenge?

My book provides easy to follow and clearly articulated explanations for fundamental AESA concepts. Derivations are logically explained and there are no equations in the book that that lack an explanation for how they were derived. This text can be used for teaching classes where AESAs are a course topic and used to help provide understanding on fundamental concepts and principles.

What have been the biggest rewards?

Adding this distinction to my career is very gratifying as African Americans have been historically underrepresented in this highly technical field. It has helped further bolster my impact as a role model and inspire others to achieve things they may have thought were not in the realm of possible. I never imagined I would be a published author growing up as I did not know anyone in my immediate circle who had done anything like this. Hopefully, I can be that example for someone else and inspire them to do even more.

What unique features do you think make the book stand out in the market?

There are several AESA books on the market, however my book provides a unique perspective that the others do not. My book combines theoretical rigor and the actual system design of AESAs. It leverages my experience as a system architect in highlighting “the why” and explaining “the how.” My book is a blend of real-world system experience combined with fundamental technical rigor that currently does not exist.

Can you provide a brief summary of your book?

Active Electronically Scanned Arrays: Fundamentals and Applications is a foundational treatment of active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs) ideal for engineering students and professionals. An overview is provided of the primary subsystems of an AESA and detailed explanations of key design concepts and fundamentals for subsystems, including antenna array elements, transmit/receive modules, and beamformers.

Performance results for various AESA architectures often found in industry, including analog, subarrayed, and digital beamforming AESAs, are discussed. With a focus on practical knowledge and applications, Active Electronically Scanned Arrays: Fundamentals and Applications offers an accessible overview of a technology critical to the implementation of collision avoidance in cars, air surveillance radar, communication antennas, and defense technologies.

Where can we find you online?