We are excited to introduce you to the winners of ECE’s departmental heat last term, and share a snapshot into their research and their experiences so far in ECE! Congratulations to Ivelina Daiss, Hooman Vaseli, and Jonas Welsch on their successful presentations!
3MT (3-Minute Thesis), is a competition held throughout UBC where graduate students are challenged to present their research in just three minutes to a non-specialist audience! Individual departments hold their own heats to determine which students from the department will go on to compete in the UBC-wide competition. Ivelina, Hooman, and Jonas were our ECE winners this year.
We connected with Ivelina and Hooman about their experiences in ECE and in the 3MT competition, where they shared their favorite parts about their programs as well as some tips for their younger selves!
What is the topic of your research?
Ivelina: I am part of the Earthquake Early Warning for the Smart City using 5G (EEW-SC) project. The project belongs to the I2Sim group headed by Dr. Jose Marti in the ECE Department and Dr. Carlos Ventura in the Department of Civil Engineering. We are designing a modern earthquake early warning application and working with Rogers Communications to verify its deployment for Vancouver. My thesis is related to providing an IoT solution for the EEW-SC application. I worked on setting up and testing a network of sensors for collecting seismic data during an earthquake.
Hooman: Broadly, I am researching machine learning and deep learning methods for medical imaging applications. Specifically, in my lab, RCL (Robotics and Control Lab), our group focuses on ultrasound images of the heart (called echo) and prostate to automate the analysis of such data and assist the clinicians. My target is to improve the stroke risk assessment through the use of deep-learning-based analysis of heart ultrasound images. So, I’d like to say I’m specializing in broken hearts! 😉
What inspired you to study this topic?
Ivelina: I feel that my work on this project is a great way to contribute to the well-being of the society I live in. In my undergraduate studies at UBC, I was introduced to Dr. Marti’s extensive expertise in systems and disaster response and management and I really wanted to join his team. In addition, working with industry partners, in particular with Rogers Communications, provided me with an experience few graduate students are able to have.
Hooman: I was first inspired to pursue a biomedical specialization during my undergraduate degree at UBC because, from my childhood, I remember how in the Star Wars universe the technology was so advanced that prosthetic arms and legs could let the user feel and control them as if they were real limbs. I got into the field of machine learning for medical imaging thanks to my current supervisor (Prof. Purang Abolmaesumi) who introduced me to the field when he offered me my first co-op job at RCL after finishing my 2nd year of undergrad at UBC. Working in such a cutting-edge field using real data to have an impact was so satisfying that I decided to continue my graduate studies as a Ph.D. student in the same lab. In 2020 when I started my Ph.D., I got to know about all the ongoing projects in RCL, and this specific project to improve stroke risk assessment by analyzing echo data seemed to me as one of the most impactful projects, especially because stroke is the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide. And honestly, this has been one of the most persistent reasons that have been driving me to do research in the field.
If you could go back in time and meet yourself at the start of your degree, what advice would you give yourself?
Ivelina: I would advise myself to take as many courses as I can. I advise future graduate students to benefit as much as possible from the extensive course offering in ECE. There are many graduate level courses with instructors who are on the cutting edge of research. Taking advantage of the knowledge they communicate is one of the best ways to gain the most from your graduate experience.
Hooman: Take it easy Hooman! Focus more on the tasks at hand rather than thinking of all the things you can do over several years at the same time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Also, celebrate every achievement you get, no matter how small. You’ll get refueled and morale boosts that you’ll need in the difficult path of research.
What made you want to participate in the 3MT competition? What was your favourite part of the experience?
Ivelina: My initial motivation to participate was to spread awareness of the Earthquake Early Warning for the Smart City using 5G project. I also felt that the preparation for the competition would help me to set in perspective what is important to communicate in my thesis. My favourite part was the preparation for the competition. I found that the Department of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers extensive resources for our 3MT preparation, and I benefited a lot from the coaching sessions they offered.
Hooman: Other than the prize money, it felt really good to get a platform and present my work to people whom I had not known previously and get acknowledgment for all my efforts. Also, presenting to such an audience was well outside of my comfort zone which by itself is very rewarding. My favorite part was getting to know about all the other cool projects and their researchers in the community and making new friends.
What are you hoping to work on in the future/after your program is over?
Ivelina: I would like to apply my skills and knowledge in a way that benefits society. Working on projects in the IoT space for Smart Cities and Smart Energy and supporting new generation communications networks aligns with my perspective that our quality of life can be improved through conscientious application of technology.
Hooman: I am aiming to work in the industry after graduation, but I really hope what I’d be doing is impactful for the greater good of society rather than just making more profit for the companies. Because for me, nothing can be more satisfying than knowing what I work on makes a real difference in the world.
What non-academic experience has made your time at UBC memorable so far?
Ivelina: The people I have met, both during my undergraduate and graduate time at UBC, have made the greatest impact in my life. I am grateful for the relationships I have built with my undergraduate friends and my current colleagues. I continue to draw inspiration from them and I am so proud to see them succeed.
Hooman: Honestly, the pandemic and remote work made it really hard to get the full experience of UBC. Thankfully, I was here during my undergrad and campus has started reopening. Based on my undergrad experience and what I plan to do in the future, I’d say all the events that I’ve attended and will attend, especially the UBC signature events like Storm the Wall and the Day of the Longboat, are what make my UBC experience memorable.
Congratulations again for all your hard work Ivelina, Hooman, and Jonas!
To anyone interested in taking part in future 3MT heats, stay tuned for our call for participants early next year for the 2023 3MT Competition!
Ivelina is a student in ECE’s MASc program. To connect with her about her 3MT experience, her research, or her MASc program, Ivelina is happy to connect via LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ivelinadaiss
Hooman is a student in ECE’s PhD program. To connect with him about his 3MT experience, his research, or his PhD program, Hooman is happy to connect via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hoomanvaseli