Motor Control, Software, Hardware and Training

Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas is the “Jack of all Trades” and creative force behind Kappa Electronics. Although he received a degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1997, he has “the knack” for all things engineering, both electrical and mechanical. Towards the end of his bachelor’s degree, Eric became very interested in motor control and power electronics. This led him to the University of Illinois in 1998 where he became a key contributor to their Hybrid Electric Vehicle project. During his time there he was awarded the highly coveted Grainger Power Engineering Award.

Eric obtained his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1999, and was recruited by General Electric to lead their software design activities for Electrically Commutated Motors. While at GE, he developed much of their control and communications software on Microchip, Freescale, and TI platforms. His interpersonal skills were quickly recognized, and he was targeted for a fast-track career into management. But Eric’s heart was in engineering, where he continued to design hardware and software for a variety of high profile motor control projects. Before leaving GE, he graduated from the GE Edison Engineering Development Program.

In 2006 Eric moved to the Advanced Technical Design group at Stryker Instruments. This was a time of career growth for Eric as he expanded his knowledge into medical systems, designing RF components and custom software for IEEE 802.15.4 radios for medical instruments. He became an expert with Finite Element Analysis techniques, where he electromagnetically modeled the human body and developed ways to power internally implanted devices. But Eric’s true love was still power electronics and motor control. While at Stryker, he also designed an FPGA based field oriented controller for a high speed motor used in medical cutting applications.

In 2010, Eric was recruited by Texas Instruments as a senior engineer on the Central Motor Control Applications Marketing Team. His interpersonal skills combined with his technical savvy allowed him to effectively work with customers to solve their motor control problems using TI products. His expertise was quickly recognized throughout Texas Instruments, and he became a leading champion for motor control innovation at TI. In his spare time, Eric designed a proprietary dynamometer system that ended up being used extensively throughout TI. In 2012 he moved to the C2000 motor control applications team where he developed the InstaSPIN-BLDC product; a sensorless control technique for BLDC motors. He was also a key contributor and designer of InstaSPIN-FOC, which is a proprietary sensorless field oriented control algorithm available from Texas Instruments. Eric became well known throughout the industry for his innovative work with e-bike motor controllers, direct drive washers, fan controllers, and automotive pumps, just to name a few. He recently authored a paper on a non-conventional Space Vector Modulation technique he designed for InstaSPIN-FOC.

Eric enjoys cycling, ice skating and skiing with his wife Anne and their two daughters. He is always tinkering with things around the house, re-designing them to make them work better. He even helped a friend build a generator from scratch for a wind power generation station. His passion for power systems and motor control continues to drive his hobby activities.