5 Questions with Faculty: Tolga Soyata

Tolga Soyota works with a student at his lab at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UAlbany’s Downtown Campus. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 26, 2017) — Tolga Soyata is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in UAlbany’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Soyata joined the University last year, leaving a similar position at the University of Rochester because, he said, “the highly promising prospects for the Electrical Engineering Department and the credentials of Dean Kim Boyer convinced me that this department would go really far.”

Soyata’s research involves cyber physical systems — networked embedded systems such as those that monitor seismic activity and send out warnings — as well as digital health and high-performance medical data processing and visualization.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a project to read the human brain activity from the EEG signals it emits. This research could lead to high-impact results by helping individuals who lost their motor skills by using prosthetic arms that are powered by strictly brain signals.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

Impact opportunity. Nothing has a higher impact potential than technology that can improve human lives, let alone bring back the motor functions they lost.

Who is someone who influenced you?

Carl Friedrich Gauss, the brilliant German mathematician whose work influenced number theory, algebra and geometry. In addition to being an amazing academic, he graduated Ph.D. students who ended up being as successful as himself. His impact is unmeasurable.

What’s the best thing about working at UAlbany?

It’s exciting to be part of the new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a small school with an unknown name – at least for now. But all it takes is that one big thing coming out of here, and suddenly we are no longer unknown. This opportunity is pretty exciting.

What was your first job?

My first job was at a company – in Istanbul – that built/sold RF antenna amplifiers to feed a single large antenna into multiple TVs in a 10-12 story skyscraper. I was responsible for soldering the amplifier boxes and testing them using a test antenna with a few test TVs inside the company, before we delivered them.

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