photo of tinish with his bike

Graduate Spotlight: Tinish Bhattacharya – MS/PhD student in Computer Engineering

In his own words – Interviewed during 3rd year of degree in ECE (2021)

  • Hometown: Kolkata, India
  • Previous Degrees: B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
  • Advisor / Lab or Group Name: Dmitri Strukov / Strukov Research Group
  • ECE Research Area: Computer Engineering
  • Hobbies and Interests: Road Biking, Hiking

Tinish’s Research

  • Main Area of Research: Neuromorphic and In-Sensor Computing Circuits and Systems
  • Research Interests: Neuromorphic Hardware, Mixed-Signal Circuit Design, Unconventional Computing
  • Professional Memberships: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Publications: Tinish’s Google Scholar

Favorite things about

  • ECE Department: World class faculty, collaboration within the department and high impact research
  • UCSB: The university has the best possible location in the world among other things!! The bike paths will lead you to the beach within 10 minutes of your most stressful class/meeting no matter which part of the campus you start from.
  • Santa Barbara: Beautiful beach town hugging the Santa Ynez mountains, makes for a perpetual getaway from the hustle and bustle and enables you to focus on your work. Sounds like a travel Ad of sorts but it is what it is.

Tinish and his research

Tell us about your research:

My research is broadly focused on designing novel hardware for bio-inspired, In-Memory and In-Sensor computing paradigms. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this field of research, my work involves both mixed-signal IC/Board design, device level characterization and also system-level simulation and analysis of bio-inspired neural network algorithms.

How and why did you get into your area of research?

I first heard of this field of research from a senior friend of mine during the initial years of my undergrad. As a new EE undergrad I was quite interested in electronic circuits and the idea of designing brain-like functionality with electronic circuits got me hooked immediately. I was also fortunate enough to work with some great faculty members in my college and abroad that helped consolidate my interest in the field.

Why did you select UCSB and ECE in regards to your research?

My main motivation for selecting UCSB was to work under the guidance of Professor Dmitri Strukov. Our research group is arguably one of the best in the field.

What do you find rewarding about your research?

The most rewarding part of my research is also one of the most difficult parts: Having the opportunity to do experimental research, designing and testing actual circuits and devices instead of working solely on simulations, though the latter is also an indispensable part of my research.

Thoughts on working in a group research environment:

Working in a research group environment inculcates a habit of collaborating with people having similar broader interests yet dissimilar and complementary set of skills. You get to learn from not only your supervisor but also from your research mates.

UCSB Prides itself on its collaborative atmosphere, give some examples of how you collaborate:

It is indeed true that the spirit of collaboration runs high here in UCSB. For one of my projects we have been collaborating with the Naval Research Laboratory and it has been an invaluable learning experience working alongside people with different research skills. Apart from that, due to the nature of our work we often avail facilities, instruments and technical services from across departments here at UCSB.

Academics at UCSB

Strengths of the graduate program:

World-Class faculty with a wide range of graduate and high-level courses in different interest areas.

Favorite course:

Advanced VLSI Architecture and Design (ECE 256C) instructed by Professor Forrest Brewer. You get the opportunity to design a complete Integrated Circuit (IC) from scratch.

Describe your Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) and/or Teaching Assistant (TA) experiences:

By the end of Fall ’21 quarter I will have TA’d three times in Introduction to Computer Architecture (ECE 154A) and once in Foundations of Analog and Digital Circuits & Systems (ECE 10B). Apart from that I have mostly been a GSR working towards my research thesis. My TA responsibilities include grading assignments/midterm/final-term papers and holding discussion/lab sections.

Life as a graduate student

Quality of life as a graduate student and how you balance school, work, social, and family life:

One thing I have observed over the two years of my graduate life is that it is very difficult to excel flawlessly and simultaneously in all three of the following aspects of life while you are a graduate student: Research Work, Physical/Mental Fitness and Social Life. You can check two out of these three boxes at any time but getting all three ticked at the same time is a challenge. To give an example, there have been times when I was burning the midnight oil in my lab and getting great results but was either skipping my gym sessions or not being the most interesting person during Friday night drinks. On the other hand, I have spent some great moments with friends here, gone on 100-mile bike rides but work got slightly neglected during those times.

What is your social life like?

I have been living in San Clemente Graduate housing apartments since the time I joined UCSB. Social life includes hanging out with friends over pizza and drinks on weekend nights, going on hikes and on drives along the coastal highway whenever we catch a break.

Tell us about your summer break:

I spent most of my summer working on my research projects here on campus.

Advice to prospective graduate students:

My advice would be to maintain a balanced life during their time here. Strive to get all the three boxes ticked as much and for as long as possible.

Future Plans...

Where will your research take you next and what are your future Career Goals?

As of now I have not made up my mind as to whether I will join academia or industry. However, I feel that doing an industry based internship during my PhD or maybe getting some Post-Doctoral experience in an industry based research lab would be a great way to learn how things work in industry and then decide which is best.