GVFaces: Atilla Ozgur Cakmak
October 12, 2021
Atilla Ozgur Cakmak joined Grand Valley’s faculty as an assistant professor of engineering, bringing a multitude of valuable experiences with him.
For eight years, Ozgur worked at Penn State University as a postdoctoral researcher of solar cells, focused on learning how to more efficiently create energy from solar power. Ozgur was also a lab instructor and assistant teaching professor. He said his family had a big influence on developing his passion for research and teaching.
“As a small kid, I remember visiting my aunt’s lab while she was doing research for her Ph.D. Even before primary school, I was able to see and develop this ambition to search and seek out the unknown,” Ozgur said.
Ozgur attended Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in microelectronic engineering, and master’s degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, Ozgur studied electromagnetics and photonics to earn a doctorate.
“I never really cared about the titles. The most critical things to me are to do research, to work with the students and teach,” Ozgur said.
He has been researching topics relating to solar cells and photonic hook structures, which explore how light can be bent in mid-air in an unexpected way, while also working to create research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
When Ozgur isn’t in a classroom, he said he enjoys exploring new local coffee shops, playing chess, watching basketball, biking and jogging, and diversifying by reading topics in the social sciences.
“You cannot be a good engineer or a functional part of the community if you blindly focus on what’s directly in front of you,” Ozgur said. “You have to take into consideration a lot of different parameters, trying to intellectually expand and explore new things should be part of your duty, too.”