5 Questions with Faculty: Jeffrey Braunstein

Jeffrey Braunstein on a hike up Buck Mountain with two of his undergraduate assistants.

Jeffrey Braunstein on a hike up Buck Mountain with two of his undergraduate assistants. (Provided photo)


ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 12, 2020) — Jeffrey Braunstein is a professor of practice in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, part of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Before joining UAlbany, he was a senior lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he received his PhD in 2004. His research focuses on numerical computation, modelling microwave heating in resonant chambers.


What are you working on now?

I am teaching faculty, focused on helping students and developing curriculum. I greatly enjoy interacting with students, especially watching them develop over their time at the University. Seeing their excitement upon getting those first full-time job offers is a fantastic reward for me.


What made you decide to pursue your field?

Pursuing a degree in electrical engineering was a combination of interest in the area and a desire to challenge myself with one of the more difficult professions. Pursuing research in electromagnetics arose from my interest in my undergraduate course Fields and Waves. I recall finding the concept of elliptically polarized plane waves very elegant.

Jeffrey Braunstein on a winter hike with his sister and cousin
Jeffrey Braunstein on a winter hike in the Adirondack Mountains with his sister (R.) and cousin (L.)

Being offered research in the area of antennas and microwave heating fit nicely with my interests, as I entered graduate school. During my studies, I was allowed to teach courses, which I found extremely rewarding. This experience ultimately led to my pursuit of a career that focused on teaching.


What’s your favorite class to teach and why?

A tough question with an answer that varies. I very much enjoy teaching the classes with laboratory elements, where I can relate classroom theory to the practical experiences of real measurements. As such, classes like Electric Circuits and Introduction to Electronics are quite fun. However, after a few semesters of teaching the same class, it is nice to have a break and teaching something new. Also, teaching a class for the first time is very exciting, with the challenge of learning how to communicate the concepts to students and identifying where they will struggle with the material.


Who is someone who influenced you?

When I was choosing which graduate school to attend, my conversation with Dr. Ken Connor (my future advisor) was the primary factor in my decision. His description of his research, including a humorous discussion of wearing radiation badges while performing experiments, was very engaging and inspired my choice. During my graduate studies, I always admired his very obvious enjoyment of the work and general curiosity about life.


What’s one thing students might be surprised to know about you?

I am an aspiring 46er, slowly summiting the various high peaks of the Adirondacks. I find some of those hikes pretty long and challenging.