Logo: University of Southern California

Electrical Engineering Spring Festival Showcases Student Research

Ming Hsieh and Dean Yannis C. Yortsos present awards for EE excellence
Eric Mankin
May 22, 2012 —

Launched less than two years ago at USC Viterbi, the Ming Hsieh Institute (MHI) recently presented its second Electrical Engineering Research Festival.

The occasion presented a generous helping of top-level graduate student research, an entrepreneurship panel of four highly successful electrical engineering entrepreneurs, a presentation of a remarkable new wireless networking system and a wearable guide system for the visually impaired, and of course prizes for outstanding student work bestowed by Institute benefactor and namesake Ming Hsieh and USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos.

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Ming Hsieh Department Co-Chair Alexander (Sandy) Sawchuk, Ming Hsieh Institute Director Shrikanth Narayanan, Ming Hsieh, Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos.

The core of the program introduced by MHI Director Shri Narayanan was an exciting overview of the broad range of research being pursued by Ph.D. candidates at the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering. No fewer than 12 of these delivered statements that, consistent with the entrepreneurial emphasis of the MHI, were called “overview pitches” rather than research presentations.

Another 66 students put up an extraordinary range of research posters in 12 distinct areas: Architecture, Signal Processing, Applied Electromagnetics, Bioelectronics, Communications, Controls, Energy, Integrated Circuits and Systems, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Networks, Photonics and VLSI/CAD.

Additionally, two research teams demonstrated remarkable research projects under intense current development.

One was a wearable vest system helping vision-impaired walkers to negotiate their environments using a computer system that creates a three-dimensional model of the space in front of the walkers and then guides the walkers with signals sent to buzzers on shoulders and hips.

Best Theoretical Paper co-winner: Sunil Kumar, "Perfect Reconstruction Two-Channel Wavelet Filter-Banks for Graph Structured Data,"
 Students working on the “guide vest” project are Yong Hoon Lee, Olaoluwa Fadiran, Pushpak Sarang, Mahesh Dasarath, and Carey Zhang, working under professors Hossein Hashemi, James Weiland, Marentina Gotsis and Gérard Medioni.

The second was an effort to create ultrawideband networks using MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) “software radios” exchanging signals timed to the picosecond. Students Vlad Balan, Ryan Rogalin and Antonios Michaloliakos demonstrated the equipment, which they had designed and built themselves. Konstantinos Psounis (who gave his own presentation of the material later in the afternoon) led the effort, along with Andreas Molisch and Giuseppe Caire.

But what to do with brilliant research? Four current Ming Hsieh department faculty have succeeded in outstanding fashion in bringing their ideas to the market. Questioned by moderator Antonio Ortega, the quartet told about the stages on their evolution from academic to entrepreneur. The group included Peter Beerel (Timeless Design Automation); Keith Chugg (Trellisware Technology); Chris Kyriakakis (Audyssey Labs); and Daniel Singleton (Transient Plasma Systems). What was unanimous was their advice that it was critical to be able to explain the research clearly, quickly, and compellingly; “soft skills,” as Chugg put it.

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Academic Entrepreneurs: Peter Beerel, Keith Chugg, Chris Kyriakakis and Daniel Singleton.

Then it was time for awards. Posters were judged by Murali Annavaram, Kostas Psounis, Wei Wu, Justin Haldar, Ben Reichardt, Mike Chen and Alex Dimakis.

Another panel of faculty judges, including Melvin Breuer, Todd Brun, Bhaskar Krishnamachari and Chris Kyriakakis, scrutinized other presentations, with the same panel plus Antonio Ortega judging the year’s crop of dissertations.

For the presentations, Ming Hsieh himself and Dean Yortsos were at the podium with Ming Hsieh Department Co-Chair Alexander Sawchuk, who served as Master of Ceremonies, and MHI Director Narayanan. Working with Narayanan on the MHI executive team were MHI Co-Directors Bhaskar Krishnamachari and Hossein Hashemi as well as MHI Business Officer Danielle Hamra and electrical engineeringh student service staff Diane Demetras and Christina Fontenot.

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Software radios and software radiomakers Ryan Rogalin and Vlad Balan.

“I am really delighted to see this event a second year in a row making the research lead to the product,” said Hsieh, “building the best products to represent USC.”

Dean Yortsos was also pleased by the day, which he noted was “thanks to the generosity of Ming Hsieh. I am glad to see the Institute is developing in such a wonderful way,” while recognizing the enormous loss of EE students Ying Wu and Ming Qu.

Still, Yortsos promised, “together we will move forward.”


Click on the image to download the program

Best Teaching Assistant Awards 
Kartik Audhkhasi,  Chih-chieh Hsu,  Jonathan Joshi,  Joyce Liang,  Satsuki Takahashi

Honorable Mention Teaching Assistant Awards
Waleed, Dweik, Eugenio Grippo, Anantha Karthikeyan, Hari Mahalingam, Dileep Manisseri Kalathil,  Jiangyang Zhang,

Honorable Mention Research Paper Awards
Yi Gai, Combinatorial Network Optimization With Unknown Variables: Multi-Armed Bandits With Linear Rewards and Individual Observations
Angeliki Metallinou
, Context-Sensitive Learning for Enhanced Audiovisual Emotion Classification
Osonda Osoba
, Bayesian Inference With Adaptive Fuzzy Priors and Likelihoods 

Best Theoretical Research Papers
Brandon Franzke, Noise can speed convergence in Markov chains
Sunil Kumar, Perfect Reconstruction Two-Channel Wavelet Filter-Banks for Graph Structured Data,

Best Experimental Research Paper
Yue Fu, Fully Printed Separated Carbon Nanotube Thin Film Transistor Circuits and Its Application in Organic Light Emitting Diode Control

Best Experimental Dissertation
Firooz Aflatouni, Electrically Assisted Relative and Absolute Phase Control of Semiconductor Lasers

Best Theoretical Dissertation
Jinho Suh, Models for Soft Errors in Low-level Caches

Honorable Mention Graduating Pitch Presenter
Yi Gai – Online Learning Algorithms for Network Optimization with Unknown Variable

Best Posters
Jiangyang Zhang  Region-adaptive texture-aware image resizing
Megasthenis Asteris Repairable Routing Codes

Honorable Mention Posters
Daniel Wong – Enhancing Server Energy Efficiency by Shifting Light Burden to as Assistant
Ningfeng Huang – Periodic Semiconductor Nanowire Array for High Efficiency Solar Cells

Best Demo
Olaoluwa Fadiran, Pushpak Sarang, Mahesh Dasarath, Yong Hoon Lee, Wearable Low Vision Mobility Aid

Best Graduating Student Presenter
Samir Sharma Accelerated Chemical Shift Encoded Water-Fat Imaging