Loyola University Maryland

Department of Engineering

Northrop Grumman Visit

Engineers from Northrop Grumman Speak to the FPGA Design Class

On October 5, 2017, two engineers from Northrop Grumman, Paul McNulty and Ryan Johnson, were the guest speakers in the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) Design class at Loyola. FPGAs are revolutionizing the electronics industry due to their ability to be easily configured from a desktop computer to perform a variety of complex functions. The FPGA Design course is taken by students in the Computer Engineering concentration within the Engineering program at Loyola. Northrop Grumman Corporation is one of the nation’s leading aerospace and defense technology companies and the company regularly recruits students from Loyola for new hire positions.

Paul McNulty answers questions from students during his presentation

Mr. McNulty, who is a graduate of the engineering program at Loyola and is currently a manager of FPGA Technology in the Digital Technology Department at Northrop Grumman, gave a presentation describing the importance of FPGAs in completing electronic designs at his company. Mr. Johnson, currently a Principal Engineer in the Digital Technology Department, provided the students with insights that goes into the overall engineering design process.

The students also learned about internships and full time employment opportunities at Northrop Grumman. Mr. McNulty noted that having experience in writing VHDL code (the language used to configure the FPGAs) as well as working with the actual FPGA hardware would be a definite plus for students interested in working in his design group. In the FPGA Design course at Loyola, students learn to write VHDL code on the Nexys 4 development board, one of the newest boards from Xilinx, the leading manufacturer of FPGAs. Read more information on the course.

Ryan Johnson discusses the practical aspects of digital logic design processThe two speakers shared with the students what to expect when they start working for a large company like Northrup-Grumman, including a demonstration of how the FPGA design process is applied to real-world engineering problems. The speakers answered many questions from the students at the conclusion of their talk, giving them added insight on how their learning in the classroom translates to the workplace.

The students appreciated hearing from engineers actively involved in the design and application of high-technology electronics, as exemplified by the comments from two of the students in the class:

  • “It was great to have experienced professionals come talk about the ways FPGAs have improved today’s technology. I’m grateful that the guys from N-G showed us how FPGA-based technologies are implemented and used every day in their work and how that can translate to jobs for us” – Eric Muchisky (Loyola Class of 2020)
  • I appreciated the engineers' visit to Loyola as it gave me really good insight as to what future employers were looking for as well as an idea of where the future in technology is heading. I also liked getting an inside look at each stage of the design process, as well as the mock design opportunity that the class collaborated on near the end of the presentation. – Jordan Stahm (Loyola Class of 2019)