Electrical Engineering Students Win Big at IEEE Region 5 Meeting

Electrical engineering students at the IEEE Region 5 meeting. The department took two first-place titles and one second-place title in the oral presentation and written paper competition and the circuits design competition. Students pose with Matt Francis, section chair, Silke Spiesshoefer, vice president, and Robert Saunders, section treasurer.
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Electrical engineering students at the IEEE Region 5 meeting. The department took two first-place titles and one second-place title in the oral presentation and written paper competition and the circuits design competition. Students pose with Matt Francis, section chair, Silke Spiesshoefer, vice president, and Robert Saunders, section treasurer.

Six students represented the Department of Electrical Engineering this week at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Region 5 Meeting, bringing home two first-place titles and one second-place title in the IEEE paper/presentation competition and the circuit design competition.

The IEEE Region 5 meeting is a conference and competition for students in IEEE programs across all universities in Region 5, which include Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and parts of New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, and South Dakota. This year's meeting, held in Denver Colorado, was comprised of a robotics competition, IEEE student papers competition, an ethics competition, and a circuit design competition.

Seniors Kelly McKenzie and Chris Matthews, participated in the oral presentation and written paper competition, titled "Novel InGaN Solar Cell Designs," which won first place in both components. "The paper was about new ways to design solar cells," said Matthews. "This novel indium gallium nitride material can be adjusted to absorb different ranges of the light spectrum more efficiently", added McKenzie. "We can use that adjustability to create some interesting solar cell designs that will provide much more efficiency than the current commercial solar cells."

Junior students Mason Torgerson and Sawyer Keller participated in the circuit design competition, bringing home a second place title. "I originally had no intentions of competing until our assistant department head, Mr. Robert Saunders, hinted that we should consider participating," said Keller. "I am so glad that he cared enough to push me into going out of my comfort zone. It exposed us to a competitive atmosphere that really pushed me personally to perform at my full potential."

"This competition allowed us to implement all of the concepts and the theory that we have learned in the department here into a real world scenario," said Keller. "Our design for the competition was composed completely of elements which I had never been exposed to until I entered the electrical engineering program here," he added.

Tyler Adamson and Vin Nguyen, juniors from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith branch, competed in the robotics competition, but were disqualified due to a size constraint. The students remain optimistic and look forward to competing next year.

"We are currently waiting on our critiques so we know what to improve on next time," says Keller. "The IEEE competition placed us in a competitive atmosphere that really pushed me to use all of my design skills, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's such great, technical experience."

Kelly McKenzie and Chris Matthews will be graduating this May and speak of the value of the competition regarding their future academic careers. The experience of writing and presenting their research, say the students, will aid their pursuits as graduate students.

"The competition gave me very good experience writing down my research, learning how to talk to people about it, and giving presentations to people who are professionals in other fields," says McKenzie. "I think one of the most valuable things you gain from the competition is just the skill of being able to write a technical paper and present it at a technical conference. If you're interested in any sort of research-related career, this is a good way to get those skills in a low-stress environment," added Matthews. 

"I think that participation in the IEEE Region 5 meeting is a great experience for the students," says Juan Balda, electrical engineering professor and department head. "They have the opportunity to apply the concepts that they learn in a classroom environment to particular competitions and at the same time they interact with, and evaluate themselves, in relation to their peers at other institutions."

Contacts

Robert Saunders, professor, assistant department head
Department of Electrical Engineering
479-575-6047, rsaunder@uark.edu


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