Celebrating our 7th Annual Research Festival

December 8, 2016
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Research Festival Main Body

Undergraduate Brandon Horton shows off his research to Ph.D. students at the 7th annual Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering research festival.

By Ben Paul

On Nov. 18, the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s 7th annual research festival celebrated exciting student work, as well as the entire electrical engineering community.

Hosted by the Ming Hsieh Institute, this year’s event featured over 70 student presenters representing the many diverse fields that make up the discipline of electrical engineering.

Shri Narayanan, director of the Ming Hsieh Institute, spoke about how important the event is to the department: “It’s always a joyful occasion because we get to celebrate our students’ work and see what the latest trends are. But it’s also an important community-building event that brings together people from within our department that might not otherwise get a chance to interact.”

Each year, a guest speaker is invited to discuss a topic of current relevance. This year’s speaker was Google researcher, Hartwig Adam. Adam’s talk, Visual Machine Perception and Machine Learning for Mobile Devices, shared how Google is overcoming the challenges of enabling real-time machine intelligence.

Professor Mahta Moghaddam, Vice Dean for Research (AY16-17), was one of many faculty members on hand to observe the student research. “I come every year because it gives me a great chance to learn about the things going on in this very diverse department,” Moghaddam said. “Not only am I talking about a diversity of research, but also of race, gender, and ethnicity among our wonderful presenters.”

In the electrical engineering department, undergrads are encouraged to seek out professors for research opportunities and guidance. As more of them have taken advantage of the opportunity, the research festival has grown to include their work as well.

“It’s easy for undergrads to get involved in research,” said fifth year senior, Brandon Horton. “Every professor I’ve talked to is really open to it. My advice to undergrads is to just find the professors and ask. They really take you in and teach you so much.”

Ph.D. student Theodora Chaspari, who has presented at the festival for five years, understands the value of in the event. “Because people from the department and industry are looking at our work, it’s an amazing opportunity to get feedback from so many different perspectives.”
For Chaspari, a veteran presenter, the sense of community was strongly felt. “It’s a social event where we can mingle with our fellow students, see what they’re working on, and maybe even find opportunities for future collaboration.”

The day-long event culminated in a ceremony and reception in which Dean Yannis Yortsos and the department’s namesake, Ming Hsieh, handed out awards for the best presentations of the day. “The palpable excitement at the festival underscored the outstanding research conducted by our students and the creativity and wide diversity of the work performed,” said Dean Yortsos. “It was a true pleasure to be part of the event.”

Visit the Ming Hsieh Institute Website to see this year’s winners and a full list of presenters and topics.

Published on December 8th, 2016

Last updated on January 10th, 2019