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Electrical Engineering Research Festival fuses technology with neuroscience

The Ming Hsieh Institute hosted its 6th Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering Research Festival focused on neuroscience.
By: Sam Corey
November 12, 2015 —
EEE Awards 580
The 6th Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering Research Festival concluded with an award ceremony recognizing notable student presentations and MHI Scholars. (Photo courtesy of Sam Corey).

The Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering Research Festival, now in its 6th year, included over 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, who presented their research through poster sessions, demonstrations, and oral presentations.

“The goal of the festival is not only to highlight the world-class research that goes on at this school, but also to show the hard work that goes on in the trenches,” said Professor Shrikanth S. Narayanan, Viterbi Professor and director of the Ming Hsieh Institute.

“We’re celebrating everything we’ve done and the exciting research the students will be embarking on in the near future,”

Fellow students, faculty, alumni and leaders in the electrical engineering industry were present, allowing the students an opportunity to network and promote their research to an eclectic audience.

“The students spend so much time on their work, it’s vital for them to get feedback,” Narayanan said. “The best way to get clarity on your projects is through communication.”

Students presented their research. Over 60 different projects were on display for fellow students, faculty, alumni and leaders in the electrical engineering industry. (Photo courtesy of Sam Corey).
At the intersection of engineering and neuroscience

Given the growing amount of influence electrical engineering has on other fields, including health care, the Internet of Things, smartphone technology and big data research, this year’s installment of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering Research Festival continued the trend of incorporating electrical engineering with neuroscience, the main theme of the event.

“Engineering is the glue that holds together many fields,” Narayanan said. “Engineering is everywhere. This year we chose to focus on the brain because research in neuroscience is booming and will become increasingly prevalent. We want to establish Los Angeles as a hotbed for neuroscience technology.”

Enhancing medical therapy and quality of life

Many of the students’ presentations focused on incorporating electrical engineering technology to “reverse engineer” the brain in order to cure debilitating neurological disorders. This type of technology can replace or enhance medical therapy.

“The themes that have been selected each year are emblematic of how the field is growing,” said Urbashi Mitra, a Dean’s Professor of Electrical Engineering. “It’s becoming harder to define what electrical engineering is because of how it intersects with many different industries, but it’s an exciting challenge to see it grow and become more diverse.”

After two sessions containing a total of over 60 student board displays, and an hour-long presentation on the fusion of electrical engineering and neuroscience, the festival concluded with an award ceremony that showcased the top student research products and honored five MHI Scholars.

USC Trustee Ming Hsieh, '83, M.S. '84, the electrical engineering department namesake, and Dean Yannis C. Yortsos were also on hand to congratulate every student for their hard work.

“This event is a great representation of our cutting edge research,” Hsieh said. “It’s fascinating to see electrical engineering move into health care. This gives our field more depth and variation while playing an important role in making us healthier and helping us live longer.”