Engineering Students Building Their Own Research Network

IEEE Professional Group Names UT Dallas Organization the Best in 12-State Region

Apr. 29, 2013

IEEE Exemplary Members

Members of the IEEE student branch at UT Dallas include (top row, from left) Andres Zevallos, who is the chairman, Elanchezhian Veeramani, Ryan Marcotte, Kenneth Livingston, Alec Burmania, Garrett Staas and Zach Stokes; and (bottom, from left) Kristen Villemez, Jasmine Singh and Anubha Vishistha.

The research showcase set for Monday night is different from most. It’s organized for students and by students — specifically those in the UT Dallas student branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Events such as these have helped earn the group the prestige of being the top student branch in its 12-state region. The branch received the Region 5 IEEE Large Student Branch Award, granted to groups of more than 50 members, earlier this month. The 2013 award will hang next to awards the branch received four years in a row starting in 2006.

“This year’s award reflects the motivation, hard work and high standards of the Student Branch leadership and the members who have contributed their time to help the Student Branch with their very active program,” said Dr. Cy Cantrell, senior associate dean of academic affairs in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and advisor to the branch since 1997.

Monday night’s showcase will highlight research affiliated with the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE). It follows a similar showcase in December that presented work from bioengineering, materials science, electrical engineering and computer science.

Kenneth Livingston

Kenneth Livingston says fellow members want to explore the engineering industry.

“By highlighting research in a variety of disciplines, the faculty presenters were able to expose students to many ideas and areas of research,” said sophomore Kenneth Livingston, IEEE student branch vice chair.

“Following the presentations there was a reception in the engineering building hallway, where students had the opportunity to connect with researchers and exchange contact information. Many students now occupy research positions in these labs as a direct result of this event.”

While the research showcases are new for the group this year, the student branch has repeatedly invited engineers and computer scientists from industry to talk to Jonsson School students. Speakers this school year came from companies such as AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Raytheon and Zyvex Labs. Company officials have been so impressed, that they have asked to come back, and in one case donated money to the organization. 

Former IEEE members

Members of a previous IEEE student group pose with their advisor, Dr. Cy Cantrell (front center). The hand signal on display is the Right-Hand Rule, which electrical engineers use to represent the directions of  electric, magnetic, and power intensity fields.

“Professional development is likely the most important opportunity that we offer our student members,” Livingston said. “Our students desire to learn and explore the engineering industry.”

While professional events were popular, branch leaders said they felt there was something missing.

“The engineering students didn’t really know each other,” Livingston said.

So the branch helped organize a social event on campus open to all members of engineering student organizations. At the event, students had to answer Jeopardy-style questions from topics including UT Dallas, the Jonsson School, sports and politics.

“The social served as a refreshing reminder that our constituents are students with interests aside from professional development,” he said. “It offered us a unique opportunity to have some fun with a diverse group of people.”

Nicole Skarke, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2010, was chair of a student branch that won the Region 5 IEEE award in the past. She is now the student professional awareness coordinator for IEEE Region 5.

“We have more than 90 student branches, and less than a dozen hold these types of activities,” she said. “The UT Dallas branch is impacting students outside of the classroom and helping them develop professional skills.”

She added that participation in the student branch can also lead to internships and employment.

“An IEEE event organized by my husband, Bryan, who graduated with an electrical engineering degree in 2009 and was chair after me, helped him land an internship that turned into a full time position when he graduated,” she said.

The student branch is also how she met him.

“Another benefit of being involved,” she said.

Monday’s research showcase starts at 8:15 p.m. in ECSS 2.410. Presenters will represent several electrical engineering faculty members, including Drs. Yun Chiu, Rashaunda Henderson, Roozbeh Jafari, Dongsheng Brian Ma, and Mohammad Saquib.


Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4183, lakisha.ladson@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.

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