ECE Pulse 2nd annual technical conference champions innovation
Gabrielle Irvin, ECE ILLINOIS
- ECE Pulse hosted its second annual technical conference to inspire students with distinguished speakers, innovative projects, and groundbreaking technologies.
- The conference included technical talks focused on biotechnology, optical networking, aerospace engineering, and computing in order to engage not only ECE students, but students of other departments as well.
- The conference keynote speaker was Lt. Gen. Eugene L. Tattini (BS Management '65), an Illinois alumnus and deputy director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Other conference speakers included Alex Bourd (MS Math '95, PhD Math '03), an Illinois alumnus and principal engineer and manager at Qualcomm, and Jonathan Ashbrook (BSEE '98, MSEE '00), an ECE Alumni Board member, IC design engineer at Finisar, and site manager for the Champaign Design Center.
ECE students hosted the second annual ECE Pulse technical conference in February to inspire students with distinguished speakers, innovative projects, and groundbreaking technologies.
The conference, designed to be a casual networking opportunity, allowed students to gain insight about the real-world applications of their field of study.
“A conference like this helps students who are unsure of where to go,” said Ankit Jain, ECE Pulse networking director and junior in ECE. “Students are able to attend talks that they think are interesting and that they feel will give them some guidance. It really helps them understand a company much better than at a normal technical talk or information session because these are talks that are geared toward inspiring students.”
The conference keynote speaker, Lt. Gen. Eugene L. Tattini (BS Management ’65), an Illinois alumnus and deputy director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discussed how ECE alumni joined together to design and create Curiosity, a rover NASA launched to Mars in August 2012.
“Lt. Gen. Tattini spoke about how important it is for everyone to work with each other,” said Shivani Singh, ECE Pulse director and a junior in ECE. “That was one of our main goals, to make everyone realize they all work together. Next year when I organize ECE Pulse, I will make it more explicit that the conference is for everyone.”
The conference included technical talks focused on biotechnology, optical networking, aerospace engineering, and computing in order to engage not only ECE students, but students of other departments as well. ECE Pulse board members also organized a set of competitions designed to encourage students to test their skills and get motivated to attend the conference. The competitions consisted of diverse tasks, and challenged participants to use their technical skills and gain exposure to design challenges.
The Digital I challenge required students to design a combinational logic circuit and implement it using provided logic-gate integrated circuits. The Analog II competition challenged students to design and implement a voltage amplifier with a 10 V/V gain.
Conference speakers included Alex Bourd (MS Math ’95, PhD Math ’03), an Illinois alumnus and principal engineer and manager at Qualcomm, who discussed the current state of heterogeneous computing from the perspective of Khronos OpenCL standard, and Jonathan Ashbrook (BSEE ’98, MSEE ’00), an ECE Alumni Board member, IC design engineer at Finisar, and site manager for the Champaign Design Center, who discussed recent advances in optical networking, focusing on coherent networking technologies that are helping push optical network capacity toward one petabit per second operation.
This year’s conference attracted about 350 to 400 people, an increase in attendance compared with last year’s event. Singh hopes to further increase the attendance of the conference and plans to expand the ECE Pulse Board to enhance communication, generate ideas, and efficiently allocate tasks. She plans to send formal invitations to students and university departments to expand the reach of ECE Pulse.
“I have a lot of plans in mind,” Singh said. “Everyone inside of ECE knows that it’s an awesome department. We have a wonderful program, and we have wonderful professors teaching us. We want to make others know about our program, and we want to organize events with them, too.”