In this interview, we talk to Carlos Davila, author of the book, Radar and EW Modeling in MATLAB® and Simulink®. We discuss the motivation behind writing the book, the target audience, the most useful aspects of the book, the challenges of writing the book, and advice for other engineers who are considering writing a book.
Carlos A. Dávila is a Principal Research Engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), where he has been working for over 20 years. He is a leading expert in the field of radar system design and analysis, signal processing algorithm design and development, and modeling & simulation of advanced radar systems. Dr. Dávila received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, an M.S. from University of California-Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, all in electrical engineering. Dr. Dávila is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), and a Member of the Association of Old Crows (AOC). He was a nominee for the 1996 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Conference (HENAAC) Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Engineering.
1. What was your main motivation behind writing your book?
At the risk of sounding self-serving, I suppose my main motivation was that of leaving a legacy. After 35 years in the profession and as retirement appears on the horizon, I have wondered on occasion what I am leaving behind. The Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) courses that have inspired the contents of the book at some point will cease to be offered. All the course material accumulated over the years will be lost, unless they take a more permanent form. That is what this book means to me: the memorialization of my career, which includes the fruitful collaboration with Greg and Glenn, my two esteemed colleagues who I am honored to share authorship with.
2. Who is the main target audience for your book and what will they appreciate the most about the book?
This book is intended for practicing engineers and scientists in the defense business, whether in private industry or in government. I am hoping that they will appreciate the breadth of the material covered in the book. Most readers will likely have a particular area of expertise that will exceed the depth in the book’s coverage of that particular area. They may, however, be lacking in other areas, where the book may provide the proper background to connect the dots and provide the necessary “big picture” at the system level. If we are able to achieve this, then we have been successful.
3. What do you see your book being most useful for?
For readers that work mostly in the MATLAB® and Simulink® programming environments, I hope that the software models provided can serve as a “good start” upon which they can build on and improve to suit their M&S needs. For those that do not, I hope that they find the mathematical descriptions, modeling concepts and approaches described in the book to be easily translated into their language of choice, whether it’s Python, C/C++, etc.
4. How did you find the writing of the book? Do you have a specific process or are you quite methodical in your writing approach?
This is the first book I have ever written, so I don’t know that I have a specific process, but I do consider myself a methodical person. My co-authors and I were fortunate in that we had a lot of ready material to work with; namely, our two GTPE courses (slides and software). The book chapters were structured largely based on existing course lectures, so from an organizational standpoint it was easy in terms of following the slides and expanding on the subject matter as needed. The process in general was enjoyable and fulfilling but required a lot of effort and attention to detail.
5. What challenges did you face when writing the book and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge was to stick to the word count agreed to in the contract. As one elaborates on a given topic, there are always additional ideas and relevant examples that pop up that would add value to the discussion; however, at some point we must decide how much is enough. A second challenge was to stick to the schedule and meet the publisher’s deadline, which mandated roughly a chapter a month. Good time management was required, especially while juggling our day-job responsibilities. It was good to have scheduled milestones to keep us on track, but again, at some point we had to decide that enough was enough and move on to the next chapter. A third challenge was the coordination among three authors working almost in parallel on inter-related topics, in order to avoid excessive redundancies and ensure a cohesive flow. The key was regular communication and a good working relationship, which we are fortunate to have.
6. What advice would you give to other engineers who are considering writing a book?
If you have the opportunity to do it, go for it. It will be of the most fulfilling activities you will complete in your career. As with most other engineering endeavors, time management, good planning and organizational skills are the key to a successful completion.
7. What are you working on next?
I recently had the opportunity to increase my participation in other GTPE courses, including our flagship “Principles of Modern Radar” course. I will be focusing on updating the course material and ensuring we continue to meet the high standards that are expected at Georgia Tech.
Learn more about the book on our websites