My research is focused on developing intelligent hardware which can make processing information easier and more accessible. Such intelligent systems resemble human brain in the way that they can learn things and later perform tasks on their own. More specifically in Strukov’s lab we are interested in a special class of hardware implementation of such networks. This hardware is the best candidate among its existing counterparts as it has the potential to reach human brain in density of connections. My work is to study and custom design methods by which we can train these systems.
When I was in high school I was good in math and physics so I chose to study electrical engineering with focus on electronics in my undergraduate. After graduating I moved to Santa Barbara and had a chance to take some graduate and upper level undergraduate classes at UCSB. This helped me to explore some of the graduate research topics. Also I worked at few research groups such as Strukov’s lab and decided to continue my studies there towards PhD.
My PhD advisor was an important factor in my decision to pick UCSB for my research topic. Prof. Strukov is one of the best researchers in his field. His publications and works are among the most cited and influential literature. Also he has great relationship and connection with other researchers in this area, which is very helpful when it comes to collaboration.
It is not only cool to try to create a smart machine but also has a great impact on information processing. We are living in the information era and data processing is one of the biggest challenges of technology. Smart machines can reduce this load and result in faster, safer and low power data processing.
The nature of research in our group is very interdisciplinary. Our group members come from different backgrounds such as computer engineering, electrical engineering and material science and together we are usually working on projects that require knowledge of all such fields. This promotes collaboration within the group. Also some of our projects are joint projects with other universities.
Graduate studies require a lot of self-motivation and self-derivation. Also research usually involves finding novel solutions for a problem. However, in a research environment such as ECE department, it is easy to collaborate and seek advice from advisors as well as other fellow researchers.
At this point I am more interested in seeking opportunities in industry after graduation. However later in my career I would like to work in academia. I think it would be great to come back with a new perspective and more experience.
ECE's faculty is the strength of the program. Under their supervision, we have some of the best research groups in our department that conduct cutting edge research.
I have taken several classes since I started my graduate program and they were all great classes however ECE 594BB stands out for me. It is an advanced topic class and taught by my advisor, Professor Dmitri Strukov and was recently offered under the title: “Novel Devices and Circuits for Computing”. As the name implies this class reviews existing technologies and ongoing research in the field of hardware for computing which helped me a great deal in studying my field in greater depth as well as learning more about related research topics.
The screening exam requires a good understanding of the basics. You need to prove to five different faculty that you have a solid foundation as well as a good problem solving attitude. Qualifying exam is more of an opportunity to present your research topic and your strategies to solve it. If you have done your part, the Ph.D. committee is there to help you polish your ideas and get you closer to your goal.
I have mostly worked as GSR but had the opportunity to be a lab TA once. It was a joyful experience to help students to complete their assignments and at the same time I feel like I learned things from them. Although sometimes it was a demanding task when the project was challenging and there were 8 groups of students who needed help simultaneously!
In my experience, graduate school in engineering is more like a career in the field. I spend my weekdays working from morning to evening and usually relax and socialize during weekends. However, as a graduate student you need to know how to manage your time in different situations. Around deadlines and project dues work/life balance is tilted towards work and it is a necessity to meet a deadline.
I have a great network of friends in Santa Barbara and UCSB. Sometimes we go outdoors during weekends and enjoy Santa Barbara beaches and mountains doing BBQ or going hiking. Until recently, my husband and I used to live in UCSB family housing. I consider it to be a great housing option for family students given the proximity to the beach and beautiful scenery and also the fact that you are surrounded by your fellow students and scholars and friends. Not to mention that the apartments are subsidized and very well match a student budget.
Since I have joined the ECE department, I have spent the summers preparing for my exams (screening and qualification) as well as conducting research. Also, I have taken the opportunity to travel in summertime when I am not busy with classes. However summer is a great time for doing an internship in industry and this is what I have in mind for summer 2015.
My research is focused on tunable lasers with ring-based mirrors and their applications in photonic integrated circuits (PICs) using the hybrid siliconIII/V platform developed at UC Santa Barbara. After developing a tunable laser I have been working on developing a chip for free-space beam-steering. An optical phased array has been integrated with fast phase tuners, onchip tunable lasers and amplifiers, and onchip feedback for a robust fully integrated PIC with more than 100 I/O signals. These PICs are useful for LIDAR and pointtopoint communication applications and should be more robust, more compact, and faster than conventional devices.
I have always been interested in light and its many applications. I was impressed with the Bowers group and the work they had done and I decided I wanted to be a part of the group. After joining, I did some work on the beam-steering project and got interested enough to continue with it.
Originally, when I was looking into graduate schools I was intending to study a different field. However, as I saw the work done in different groups in the field of photonics I kept getting excited by the ideas and the results that I saw. I decided to change my focus, and soon afterward I saw The Institute for Energy Efficiency's "White Room" page. After seeing the focus and vision they had I decided that UCSB was where I wanted to do my research.
It has been exciting seeing our systems expand as small components are successfully integrated together to create new functionality. Particularly rewarding has been the experience of being challenged in new ways. Research is frustrating and difficult, but I feel like I have grown a lot through participating in it.
The Bowers group, and the larger ECE department at UCSB, are incredibly helpful. There is a wide range of expertise, and I have found that everyone I talk to is willing to share their knowledge and spend time to help other people succeed.
Working in a group is really motivating. Having other students to ask questions to helps you get through the snags that repeatedly show up in research. Also, an experienced advisor like John Bowers is invaluable. He helps us set a direction and then gives us a lot of leeway on how to pursue it, but he is still involved and asking questions and giving us advice throughout.
For the future, I plan on taking the entrepreneurial track. I am currently collaborating with two other graduate students from the Materials Science and Economics departments on building a technology start-up in the high-power white-lighting industry.
We have world-class professors here. They know their subjects very well and also have a lot of real-world experience, so nothing is taught in a vacuum. The clean room and lab facilities are fantastic. Also, I have found the Technology Management Program to be very valuable. This program is aimed at teaching students the basics of business and helping them transition their work into industry.
Some of my favorite course have been Larry Coldren's courses on lasers and Umesh Mishra's course on device physics. These are some of the most applicable classes I have ever taken.
Being a graduate student researcher has been a rewarding experience. It has allowed me to focus all my efforts on research without worrying about funding or classes. Research is hard enough without extra responsibilities, and I have plenty of extra responsibilities outside of UCSB.
The screening exam was challenging. I spent seven weeks one summer with studying every day for eight hours and then meeting with several friends at least weekly to do practice tests. It was actually quite liberating to have time set aside to study the things that I hadn't quite understood in classes, and I really appreciated it. In the end, the exams were not as bad as I imagined. They did require the study I had put in, but I found that the professors were encouraging and wanted me to succeed. I learned new ways to look at the physics from most of the exams and I went away very happy with the experience.
Balancing time is by far the hardest part of graduate school for me. I have a wife and two children under the age of four. I am also involved in service through the LDS church. I always feel like I should be working 12 hours a day to meet my research goals, and when I am taking classes it is even more difficult. Add the company I am trying to start and there simply isn't enough time to do everything I think I should. For much of my graduate career I have neglected sleep to find the needed time. I do not recommend this for extended periods of time as it becomes increasingly difficult to think clearly and is pretty depressing. So now I am simply doing my best, usually just working 8 hours a day and making sure I am spending time with my kids most nights and on the weekends. My social life is mainly through church and the occasional dinner at our apartment with friends.
I am living in Family Housing because it's conveniently close and it's all I can afford in the area. I enjoy the weather here, but I personally miss most of the benefits of living in such a beautiful location because of time constraints. I do appreciate that my wife and children have easy access to the beach, hiking trails, etc.
Most summers are spent doing research at UCSB, and I expect this year will be the same.
Graduate school is hard. Make sure you have a dream or goal or something that will get you through the lows and help you to keep going.
My current research focuses on high level abstractions and methods. In digital system design, high level abstractions and methods become more and more a necessity due to the increasing system complexity. They are crucial to design productivity and enable designers to keep up with the trend of industry. However, current high level methods have a hard time balancing between high quality and low algorithm complexity. Current state-of-the-art methods have at least cubic complexity which is not acceptable for large designs. In my research, we propose hierarchy-based stochastic algorithms which are scalable and can generate high quality designs. Compared to the state-of-art algorithms, ours can generate better results while having a complexity which is one magnitude lower.
When I was an undergraduate, I always wanted to build some real working systems. I had a lot fun experiences using single-chip microprocessor and wanted to look more into this field. When I got to UCSB, I did not hesitate to join the computer engineering group because I knew I could learn what I wanted to learn. After exposing myself to different research fields, I found that the research opportunity that Professor Forrest Brewer offered was a perfect match for me. I was attracted not only to the projects, but also Forrest's enthusiasm, passion and wisdom. Also, the open and free research environment of his lab made me believe even more that this was the lab I had been looking for.
UCSB's ECE department has a great reputation in the world. There are a few professors doing great research in Computer Engineering. The job market for UCSB students is great. One can choose to work in big/small companies or become faculties in prestigious schools. Finally, it is the unmatchable ocean view that made me push the button.
Research is all about finding the right problems, solving them using the right approaches and presenting them in a clear way. It is not easy to get. You need to be smart, creative and persistent. However, once you get there, oh man, life can never be better.
Ph.D. students have no difficulty finding new ideas. The problem is about which ideas are the right ones. We don't have enough time and energy to try them all. This is where your advisor comes to play. My advisor can provide insights on these problems and ideas and guard me in the right direction. However, no matter how good and knowable your advisor is, there is always something that you need to decide yourself. You need to come up with new ideas, choose the right one from a smaller pool of them and find out the right way to solve them. This is how you become a real Ph.D.
Choosing an advisor and a research group is crucial to a Ph.D. student. I really think this should draw all Ph.D. students' attention. Ph.D. is a long time commitment, five years on average. During this period, you need to work with your advisor and your lab mates a lot, if not every day. The way they think and behave will unconsciously affect you. Finding a great advisor is as important as finding a great project. A great advisor is an advisor whose research attracts you and whose thinking and working styles match yours. My lab has always been a lab which is open to new ideas, new challenges and new people. The lab is always full of new exciting ideas both from our advisor and students.
After graduation, I would like to work in industry. For engineers, the ultimate goal is to solve practical problems. In my field, I believe most of the valuable and interesting problems come from industry. It's time show my "weapons".
I believe the faculty and staff are the strengths of the department. Professors love what they are doing and are always there to teach, help and encourage students. I sincerely believe getting the job done is not their primary goal. Their goal is to get things done to the best benefits of students. Staff are always there to help, too.
It is hard to select one favorite course because I have had so many fun classes. Introduction to Design Automation(ECE256A) was one of them. I took this class the first quarter I was at UCSB. Back then, my English was extremely bad. I could not follow professors in classes and was afraid to ask questions. The consequence was that I needed to spend at least twice as much time as other students, if not more. However, the idea of using mathematical algorithms to solve practical problems kept motivating me, and the final project was a lot fun.
For the screening exam, join a study group. If there is not one, establish one. A study group is so great and brings so much efficiency and fun to your study. For qualifying exam, presentation is about everything. Also, make sure you can describe your research clearly within 40 minutes.
I've been a GSR and a TA several times. A GSR has to be highly self-motivated, creative and hard working. Besides, GSRs need to train themselves with presentation skills. No matter how good your research is, its value will be jeopardized if you don't know how to present it. I TAed Digital Design Principles (ECE152A) and Hardware / Software Interface (ECE153A/253). In both classes, I led lab sections. In ECE153A/253, I held discussion sections too. I am an international student. English is my short slab compared to native speakers. However, one can always work out something else to compensate their disadvantages. Patience coupled with my teaching philosophy is my secret. A TA is a teaching assistant — we are there to assist with teaching. Grading homework and leading labs are basic work. So, why are we doing this? We are doing this not to fulfill our TA 50% duty but to make sure students understand class materials. If they are not, help them.
The most important thing about graduate school is study. The knowledge you require from school and the way you think. You need those in order to be competitive in the job market. However, study is not everything. Socialization is important too. I found that planning ahead helps a lot with balancing between school and work. Graduate students all have busy lives. It's quite often that when you have time, others might not. Planning ahead can minimize this conflict.
I live in Goleta because it is close to school. From Monday to Friday, I spend most of my time in school. However, I will have casual lunch or dinner with my friends during work days. In the weekend, I will hang out with my friends, holding parties, potluck, shopping or karaoke in LA. If weather permits, we sometimes go hiking. Seven Falls and Red Rock are favorite hiking trails.
Choose your favorite research group, develop some ocean related hobbies, join some clubs. Most important, enjoy life!!!!
My current research explores the effective design and deployment of wireless sensor networks for healthcare. More specifically, the title of my current project is "Multimodal Sensor Network: A Systems Approach to Analyzing Patient Well-Being and Disease States."
As undergraduate research assistant in the Healthcare Robotics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, I was introduced to a project that combined engineering and medicine to improve, in this particular case, the quality of life of ALS patients. I enjoyed being part of that project, and I loved the feeling of belonging and knowing that my research would impact someone’s life in a positive way.
I came to UCSB in hopes of joining one of the very successful Control groups in the CSSP area at UCSB. That was before learning what controls really is and I realized that controls was not for me. After dealing with the shock (which took me some time and lost sleep), I changed focus which I believe was for the best. The faculty at UCSB are supportive and flexible, allowing students to pick and try different areas of research. I also had a two-year fellowship from NSF-LSAMP-BD through the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) to attend UCSB — funding is always a great motivation to attend a graduate program.
I am particularly interested in healthcare and the potential short-term application of my research. I believe that with a direct application to healthcare my research can become a great contribution and, perhaps, the basis for providing individualized care and improving quality of life of patients and elderly frail.
The ideas that led me towards my current research put me in contact with Scott D. Hammond, M.D., and executive director of the Translational Medical Research Laboratory (TMRL) at the Center for Bio-Engineering (CBE) at UCSB and the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Dr. Hammond, my co-advisor, provides me with the medical background advisement and the expertise necessary to identify and tackle various healthcare problems as defined by the current project. My research advisor, Dr. Manjunath, provides me with scientific advisement and mentoring in the engineering field. With the guidance of both, advisor and co-advisor, I am hoping to effectively combine engineering and medicine to improve hospital efficiency and healthcare services. A project that combines engineering and medicine can only be envisioned by a strong collaboration between these two fields. Furthermore, the VR-TMRL collaboration opened Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s doors for potential deployment and testing of the proposed network in real healthcare environments.
I felt like I was in limbo for some time, after deciding that controls was not for me. Fortunately, my current advisor allowed me to defined my own project and path, which was stressful and time consuming, but I am happy and excited about my new project and the direction my career has taken. My advisor was open to the idea of combining healthcare and engineering and my research group is awesome and supportive. My advisor directs the Center for BioImage Informatics and the Vision Research Lab, together there are about 20 students and we all get along in and out of the lab. We spend a lot of time together talking about research and life,... they have become my second family. Labmates are important, they can be the only support when times get tough (and they will get tough if you are a graduate student).
I am very fond of academics but I hope that my current path leads towards a successful research career in industry. I envision either joining a start-up company or starting one. I would like to serve as a mentor for younger Latino generations and help to improve my community. I have volunteered to serve as a mentor for summer research programs and have tried various approaches (hands-off and micro-management) in order evaluate my own strengths and weaknesses as mentor and hopefully improve upon these experiences.
The strengths are approachable faculty and hardworking students. The department has a limited number of classes that are taught by experts on the various fields. In my opinion, the department focuses on quality of graduate courses rather than quantity and I really like that.
Ironically enough, my favorite course was Fundamental of Speech Processing taught by Professor Lawrence Rabiner. It was not my best course, I would go as far as to say that it was my weakest topic (especially the theory). I never did so poorly in a class as I did in that one but I liked it because it forced me to learn and re-learn signal processing basics. It was also a very hands-on class and I enjoy programming and implementing algorithms.
Among the ECE students, the screening exam has a nickname “Screaming Exam”. Preparing for the exam and going through it has been a humbling and terrible experience. I would not do that again. Now that my research is moving along, I hope to be able to qualify later in the Summer or Fall 2013. I am currently preparing for it, drafting a plan, and consulting with my advisors.
Being a Teaching Assistant (TA) is a humbling experience and I believe it is important to TA earlier in your career as grad student. The TAing experience can make taking the ECE screening exam not as dreadful. The bad side of TAing is that depending on the class and the professor it can take large amounts of time. I have TAed Computer Vision, Image Processing, Multimedia Systems, and Introduction to Programming for Engineers. They were all very fun courses and the Professors very reasonable and approachable. I like teaching, and I assume my students and Professors liked my style of teaching since I received the outstanding teaching award that comes with a nice cash price. I was also a GSR during the Summer 2012 quarter in the Vision Research Laboratory helping on a project that I am not longer working with.
Graduate school is hard. Long hours, hard and stressful work, and low pay, so it is very important that you like and enjoy what you do and the project that “you decide to work on”. It took me some time, perhaps longer than the average, to pick an area and project I wanted to commit to; however, taking the time is important and it has been the best decision during my graduate education. Graduate student life is full of sacrifices, self-motivation, and hard work with not a lot of free time or money. However, it is essential to enjoy simple things like running on the beach, going out for drinks with friends. I have a relatively set schedule where I lay out how much time to devote to exercise, cooking, lab/research work, and friends. The time is not equally distributed, but it is realistic and knowing that makes me feel fulfilled.
When I am not in the lab I am running, climbing, working out at the gym, running, hiking, and sometimes surfing. I spend all of my free time outdoors, but I am trying to get back into playing music. I live in Goleta because is relatively close to campus, cheaper and more comfortable than graduate student housing, I have a yard, and get to pick my housemates. Also, I wanted to have a dog and living on campus was out of the question after adopting a pup.
This past summer I was a mentor for two high school students, while working on some grant proposal. I was awarded a seed grant that is currently funding me. I am committed to the project for the next 9-10 months, so I will be at UCSB doing research all summer. However, I hope to squeeze in some major backpacking with my dog in the Sierras. I am planning on touring the 200 miles of the High Sierra Route, which runs parallel to the more famous John Muir Trail but at higher elevation.
Shop around for a good research group. Good meaning a group that is supportive, active, and that has projects that are interesting to you. Do not get group information from their websites, do not trust websites - 99% of them are not up to date. Instead read some of the publications (those are usually current) and then arrange meetings with potential advisors and their students. Ask a lot of questions ranging from research interest and technical question to group dynamics, responsibilities, expectations, and interaction outside the lab.