ECE 75

DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING
ECE Career Roadmap [Aug 27, 2021]

The Electrical Communication Engineering (ECE) Department is poised to celebrate 75 years of its establishment in 2022 and the year-long celebrations started with a panel discussion inaugurated by Prof G Rangarajan, Director, IISc on Future of ECE: Excellence in Leadership [see below]. This is followed by another panel discussion on ECE Career Roadmap held on August 27, 2021.

The panel included Dr. Dhananjay Gore, (Vice President Engineering and Head of Qualcomm Research India; member of Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) of ECE), Preetam Tadeparthy (Architect and Chief Technologist, Texas Instruments; IAB Member) Laxmi Mukund (Principal Engineer, CISCO Systems; and IAB member) , Dr. KR Yogesh Prasad (Scientist, ISRO UR Rao Satellite Centre; ECE alumnus 2013), Prof Sriram Ganapathy (Asst Professor, EE, IISc; ECE alumnus 2006 and was moderated by Dr GS Javed (Technical Lead Intel; ECE alumnus 2016).

Dr Javed introduced the main theme of the panel discussion and posed a question to the panel about the future of career options in ECE– in five- and fifteen-year timeframes in their respective domains. In their opening remarks, the panel members highlighted that ECE sees incredibly fast-paced changes in many areas but at the same time a right curriculum with good theoretical grounding is important to shape the students. Once they join the industry, they could mold themselves by doing simulations, implementations and lab works to address the last mile problems during the first five years. During this career, opening oneself to innovations is crucial. Students should carry forward problem solving ability augured by multi-disciplinary skills and not shy away from any technique available anywhere. During their early career they will balance between execution of projects and development of modern technologies for the organization. In the process, one learns the trick of the trade and picks up the right temperament to be persistent. What one can achieve with these is limited only by the imagination, provided one is ready to pursue bold dreams on behalf of the organization.

In this context Prof Sriram Ganapathy shared an interesting anecdote that if you work hard during the first 30-35 years of your life, you can afford to live comfortably during the next 30-35 years of your life. To do this one has a lot of learning opportunities today, in different modes. The desire for dual mode excellence is on the rise on both sides—i.e., academics pursuing industrial ventures and engineers from the industry taking up adjunct academic positions. Elegance and simplicity of a solution arrived at a problem identified dictates the rewards—a fact that is true in both academic research and industry, as pointed out by Preetam.

The moderator asked the views of panel on the perceived notion that jobs in India are typically towards testing and verification, and hardly on core technologies. All of them countered this view from their own experience. Dr Gore mentioned that industrial research houses have been indeed set up to take up the unique advantages that the Indian ecosystem provides. Industries require people to define hard problems posed by society. To understand these problems, one should be clear on the prior art on the subject and the background of the problem. Once these are understood, one requires notable talent for innovation. These are exactly what one learns during a PhD, and in that sense, PhD is a learning for life in the current age.

A question from the audience on how these systems accommodates youngsters as they join industries or R&D houses was also addressed by the panel. According to Yogesh, while selecting a job one need not be overly concerned about the area being new as the industry usually accommodates the talent of the individual so that any individual can find a comfortable space within. In most industries there will be a job suited for everyone!! To be able to value add to the goals of the organization is the key to a successful career. For this, one must keep oneself grounded, according to Preetam.

Another concern about jobs in industry related to the notion of one being asked to put in longer hours was also posed to the panel. Preetam clarified that one need not work more hours by work efficiently. Dr Gore added that one must work smart to avoid long hours. However, the panel agreed that high-pressure environments requiring long hours is inevitable while working in an industrial setting where one is supposed to deliver on time for the industry to make money. Most successful people learn to enjoy these high-pressure intervals and pick up a hobby to be able to enjoy their life outside of this.

Skewed gender ratio in high tech jobs was also alluded to. Laxmi mentioned that although many industries try to address this in several ways. This can only be addressed by tackling this early on, starting from primary schools and colleges. She also clarified that balancing work and family is almost never possible and one would be required to devote completely to either work or family at times.

When asked about the sustainability of the online masters programs Preetam mentioned that the ability to change the curriculum so that students go back with their skills enhanced significantly will be the key to success. Companies do have internal schemes to facilitate such upskilling and the goal of the online program must be to facilitate this in these “incredibly exciting times.”

During the year, the Dept of ECE will continue to engage with its alumni, to receive constructive suggestions and feedback that would help to shape up the department’s future. ECE75 celebrations will continue in the year ahead with webinars, workshops, panel sessions and culminate with a conference in the summer of 2022.

Please visit our youtube channel for a recording of this event.

Future of ECE: Excellence in Leadership [June 29, 2021]

The Electrical Communication Engineering Department is poised to celebrate 75 years of its establishment in 2022. The year-long celebrations started with a panel discussion inaugurated by Prof G Rangarajan, Director, IISc on Future of ECE: Excellence in Leadership held online on June 29, 2021. The Director mentioned the need for thinking big, and engaging in more intra-departmental and cross institutional projects for a larger impact of research.

The panel included Prof. Y. Narahari, (Divisional Dean, IISc, ECE Alumnus 1982), Prof. Anurag Kumar (Honorary Professor, ECE, Former Director, IISc), Dr. Y. V. S. Lakshmi (Exec. Director, CDAC, ECE Alumna, 1989), Dr. Aloknath De (CTO, Samsung Research, Bangalore, ECE Alumnus 1996), Prof. Himanshu Tyagi (ECE Faculty), Ms Anjana Mahesh (ECE Student) and was moderated by Prof. K.V.S. Hari (ECE Faculty). Prof. Hari introduced the main theme of the panel discussion and posed a question to the panel if the future activities of ECE Dept would be constrained by the past. Prof. Vinoy, Chair, ECE was invited to provide an overview of the ECE department’s rich history by taking the audience through the journey that saw inception of various academic programs and research initiatives in ECE that led to the formation of CEDT which became DESE, CeNSE, and RBCCPS. Prof. Vinoy stated that several faculty members are Fellows of IEEE, Indian Academies, members of editorial boards of IEEE and other reputed Journals. Chair also highlighted the formation of an Industrial Advisory Board in the department to provide inputs for planning the future of ECE.

In their opening remarks, the panel members highlighted that ECE should work on creating diversity by hiring the right candidates; enhancing collaborations with government agencies; more proactive Industry-University interactions and the role ECE can play in terms of expansion in research directions.

Prof. Himanshu Tyagi, ECE Dept, leading the activity of compiling thoughts to build the strategy document illustrated how the focus of ECE department changed with the focus of the country- from excellence in teaching during the first 25 years to excellence in research during the last 25 years. The assertion was that it is time to set the tone for the future by taking leadership roles and engaging more towards system building with a societal impact.

The moderator asked Dr. Aloknath De to describe the main differences between academia and industry on how industry views a “breakthrough”. It was stated that while the academic community focuses more on methods and technologies that lead to patenting and publishing, the industries mainly deal with products and business, that are more solution driven.

Professors Narahari and Anurag Kumar advocated the need for ECE faculty to engage in collaborative research problems with broader scope and larger impact. Prof Anurag Kumar mentioned that although the so-called publication throughput can be considered as laudable, they are becoming “dated” in the modern-day context. Dr. Lakshmi also highlighted the role of a dedicated project management team in transfer of technology, some initiative that the department can possibly undertake. Dr. Lakshmi also reminded about the country specific IPR policies, and the need for publicity of the IPRs filed. She also stressed on the need to engage with the business management department to generate more opportunities and cultivate a product-based thought process.

Dr. Aloknath De mentioned about the heritage of IISc, where there has always been a strong emphasis on the fundamentals, and research-led teaching, an aspect that has brought international repute to the Institute. He suggested that ECE must try to anchor on its rich heritage of electromagnetics research and take it towards the 6G for mm-wave and THz solutions. Synergy and cooperation with the industry may be emulated from European academic institutions. Compared to earlier years where big technological disruptions were coming from big industries, three-member startup teams seem to surprise everyone!! Dr. Aloknath pitched for an interdisciplinary approach in structuring academic courses, and recommended more computer science and programming content in communications courses.

Based on a question posed by Prof. Rama Chellappa, Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Maryland, College Park, on ECE focusing on the theoretical aspects of AI and ML subjects, Prof. Narahari mentioned that ECE is indeed in the best position to do this, and pointed out about the M.Tech. in AI program, the inter-departmental approach and various layers of this AI/ML technology and remarked that ECE must scale up in terms of quantity and quality in the number of M.Tech. and Ph.D students in the Department.

Prof. Hari asked each member of the panel to guess what would be a breakthrough technology from an ECE perspective in the next five to ten years. The responses were: Quantum technology (in next 10 years), Molecular communication, Robotics and Human-machine interactions, inter-operability of systems, technologies to enable and empower the marginalized populations, specifically in the area of agriculture.

During the year, the Dept of ECE will continue to engage with its alumni, to receive constructive suggestions and feedback that would help to shape up the department’s future. ECE75 celebrations will continue in the year ahead with webinars, workshops, panel sessions and culminate with a conference in the summer of 2022.

Please visit our youtube channel for a recording of this event.

We invite your suggestions on various activities related to ECE75 celebration using the form.

ECE75 Webinar on November 12th, 2021, 4:00 to 5:00 PM

We invite you all to our webinar by Prof. Rama Chellappa on – “Design of Unbiased, Adaptive and Robust AI Systems”.

ECE75 Inauguration

Please use this link to join the zoom meeting on June 29, 2021.