Gold, silver, and bronze medals are not just for Olympic athletes anymore—they can be for graduate students, too.
ECE graduate student Jayanand Asok Kumar went to San Diego for the Design Automation Conference and came back to Illinois with a silver medal. He came in second place in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Research Competition (SRC).
Asok Kumar was excited when he learned his research earned him second place, but was also surprised. “To be honest, I didn’t even expect the award,” he said. “When you go there, you see the work that other people have done; it’s all really great work, so to get something top out of that whole list of people it’s actually quite cool.”
His research stood the test of the abstract, poster, and oral presentation rounds of the competition. Asok Kumar’s adviser is ECE Assistant Professor Shobha Vasudevan, a researcher in the Coordinated Science Laboratory, and his research focuses on “static analysis of RTL source code for estimating aging-induced degradation.” In simpler terms, he developed a methodology for estimating aging effects in hardware at an earlier level of design.
When hardware, such as transistors, gets older, its delay time increases – and that can result in catastrophic failures. Asok Kumar’s work addresses the lifetime reliability of hardware, sounding the warning bells early in the design process to help identify and fix these aging-induced failures.
“There are several techniques to estimate aging effects, but they’re all done at a stage of design where it’s very time-consuming to detect and resolve major aging issues,” he said. His work enables hardware designers to make aging-aware choices early in the design process. This can help hardware designers to keep the design cycle short while fitting the reliability requirements.
His work was done as collaboration with Texas Instruments. Asok Kumar’s dissertation is on reasoning with statistics of hardware designs, a large platform with several possible applications. Vasudevan introduced his work to the TI group, and a TI Fellow was the first person to point out this particular application for Asok Kumar’s work.
“When they saw that our techniques applied to designs at an earlier stage, they were really interested and wanted to see how these techniques can be used for aging analysis,” he said. “So it started out as a preliminary investigation, but we collaborated with them, we evaluated results, and we saw that it has significant potential in that area.”
Asok Kumar credits Vasudevan with his success at the ACM SRC. “She was instrumental in helping me develop this and basically helped make a formalized framework,” he said. “She is a fantastic mentor. She was the one who encouraged me to apply for the competition.”
“I urged him to participate in this competition because I felt that he and his work had the potential to win this very intense competition,” Vasudevan said. Asok Kumar is Vasudevan’s first student, and she thinks he has the capabilities to go far in the design automation world. “He has a creative bent of mind, a strong mathematical background and can communicate complex technical concepts ably,” she said.
Asok Kumar’s journey is not yet finished. He and the two other medalists will travel to the Grand Finals of the competition in June 2012, where he will compete against the winners of SRC programs from other areas of ACM.