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Khan retiring, returns in new role

Longtime Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) professor Furrukh Khan may be retiring after 30 years of service, but he does so with a whole new focus on his career.

After hearing so many nice words at the May 19 ECE retirement party, however, he was having second thoughts.

“I just started getting some cold feet,” Khan joked. “Five minutes ago, I decided not to retire.”

Khan said it doesn’t feel like he is actually retiring because he was rehired as an professor emeritus and will keep teaching his same courses. His research grants are also still in place.

 “I’ll be taking care of the labs and the websites, just as I’ve been doing before. I’ll have the same office,” he said, and then laughed. “I’m sure if I was retiring I would miss you, but I’ll be back again, so nothing is going to change.”

Khan said working at ECE is a pleasure.

“As everyone knows, I love teaching and I’ll continue teaching and also serving the department in many different ways,” he said.

“How about committee work?” former ECE Chair Robert Lee joked.

“No committee work,” Khan said.

Khan said he will also spend more time developing his software startup technologies into lucrative ventures. He is working with the Ohio State University Medical Center, creating software tools to track medical patient vital signs and monitor medication schedules. He also delved into game-based software to help patients get active in their recovery process.

“Some of those are transitioning into startup companies, to take those techniques and put them out into the marketplace and into practice,” ECE Chair Joel Johnson said.

Johnson said Khan’s work with the department, in both research and teaching, has always been diverse, originally starting in solid-state electronics and then later shifting into applied-software engineering.

He said Khan’s “novel teaching methods” also contributed to ECE greatly. Khan created ECE’s sophomore teaching curriculum and received many of the College of Engineering’s top teaching awards numerous times.

ECE business officer Bobby Srivastava told one story that helps define Khan’s personality and teaching style. He said many faculty members have very specific and complicated purchase order requests for their research labs that often come through his desk. When he met Khan it was a bit different. Khan came into his office one day and was imperative. He needed three bags of popcorn “ASAP.”

“I was like, can you really even do that? Can you order popcorn?” Srivastava said.

Khan told him “the kids work really, really hard and they like popcorn. I want to get them that popcorn.”

“That was one of my first experiences with Furrukh and it just kind of highlighted his passion and his love for teaching. When I’ve interacted with students who have taken Furrukh they have always spoken very highly of him,” he said.