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Spencer Cochran working on a circuit to reduce the total harmonic distortion for wireless power transfer application such as laptops, cell phones, and tablets.

For Knoxville native Spencer Cochran, staying at UT for graduate school was a given.

Cochran began his journey at UT after graduating from Halls High School in 2011. During his undergraduate years, a few things pushed him toward an electrical engineering degree.

“I always thought I wanted to work on robotic prosthetics,” Cochran said. “The longer I was in school, the more I began to feel like electrical engineering was just as appropriate, if not more appropriate, for that dream.”

Daniel Costinett, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, served as Cochran’s undergraduate advisor and worked with him on his senior design project.

“After the [project], I told Spencer that, if he was interested, I would be willing to get him involved in undergraduate research,” Costinett said. “Spencer was able to jump right in on a complicated design without a lot of background and come up with some new and interesting design ideas for the research. Based on his performance, I offered him a graduate research assistant position to stay and pursue his master’s degree.”

Cochran finished his master’s degree in power electronics this past fall while starting work toward his doctorate in power electronics.

As a part of the CURENT program at UT, Cochran’s research focuses on wireless power transfer. His goal of the research is to improve wireless charging in devices such as phones and laptops.Cochran is one of 15 UT students among the first class of recipients of the Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence.

“It means a weight off my back,” Cochran said. “The money is one less thing for me to worry about, and that allows me space to focus on school and health. . . It makes me want to be a good steward of this opportunity, and in that sense, it draws out the best in me.

“I grew up here, love the city, got great scholarship opportunities, have an exceptional professor, and realized that UT is top five in the nation for power electronics,” Cochran said. “All things considered, I feel honored and excited to be a part of the program.”


Lindsey Owen (865-974-0937,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,