Monday, February 15, 2010

VLSI/embedded systems design contest rolls out at RV-VLSI Design Center

The RV VLSI Design Center, Bangalore, and Mentor Graphics have jointly started a new initiative on BE projects and design contests as part of the education initiative in India. The first ever inter-collegiate design contest in VLSI/embedded systems was inaugurated today by Dr. H.P. Khincha, Vice Chancellor, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), at the RV VLSI Design Center, an RV Academic Research Institution.

The RV-VLSI, with the support of VTU and industry academia alliance partners such as Mentor Graphics, has constituted this design contest. It is open to all colleges under the VTU.

A set of projects of relevance to the industry has been identified by RV-VLSI and VTU. Students have to choose a project based on personal interest and guidance from their college guides. RV-VLSI offers pre project training to these students and will subsequently guide them in the execution of the project at the center.

Venkatesh Prasad, CEO, RV-VLSI Design Center, said that 133 students from nine colleges have registered for projects. To ensure that students have necessary skills required to execute the projects efficiently, each student will undergo an intense 100 hours pre-project training at the center. After its completion, the students will regroup into their respective teams and start the execution of the project under the guidance of the RV-VLSI faculty.

Opportunity for budding entrepreneurs
Anil Gupta, member – Executive Council, India Semiconductor Association (ISA), said that India could have a potential of consuming $300-$400 million in electronics by 2020, from the current consumption of about $40-$45 billion. Only 3 percent of this $40 billion is currently being made in India. “The opportunity is in front of us to grab,” he said. “So far, we have done a terrible job of making use of this opportunity.”

Encouraging students to also focus on enterpreneurship, he advised them of the great opportunity and challenge ahead of us to see how much we (India) can contribute toward this $400 billion opportunity. We would also need to learn to compete with the Samsungs, Toshibas, iPhones, etc. He mentioned the ISA Technovation Awards 2010, which witnessed a number of Indian start-ups demostrating their products.

Projects are responsibility of faculty
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Khincha said that the impact of VLSI and embedded is huge in India. VLSI, especially, plays an important role in the sense business and the intelligent business. India needs experts to run such businesses.

He added: “Universities are supposed to develop scholarships of academia. There are four aspects of this scholarships. These include the scholarships of discovery, application, integration and teaching.” Commenting on the RV-VLSI Design Center’s design contest, he said that trying to develop such programs and making it worthwhile rests on the faculty of the institutes. It should not be left up to the students to do what they can do. “A project is a part of the curriculum. It has to be done by the faculty and it is their responsibility.”

Dr. Khincha highlighted that the VLSI impacts a very large part of our lifestyle. “It also changes very fast. Students and the faculties have to keep pace with those changes,” he noted.

He hoped that some of the students would go on to become enterpreneurs. VTU will be able to provide help to such students in areas such as patenting, copyrighting, funding, etc.

Raghu Panicker, Sales Director Mentor Graphics India, shared his experience with students, adding that it had been tough for him to complete his project while finishing engineering. Today, everyone in the industry has been coming forward to help the student community. He added that the design contest could be in multiple areas such as analog, mixed signal, etc. Other criteria would be laid out in the coming months. He advised students to talk to Mentor Graphics who would help solve their challenges. Panicker also advised students to visit the Cre8 Ventures website, which helps start-ups and budding entrepreneurs.

Dr. M.K. Panduranga Setty, president, Rashtreeya Sikshana Samithi Trust, added that products today were designed to last a few years, instead of decades. “The Indian industry is looking for engineers with ‘extra quality’ so that they can be productive to them in a short time. The RV-VLSI’s mission is to lower the time taken by engineers to become productive. It is our desire to extend this contest to all over the state of Karnataka, and later, to the other parts of the country.

He added: “It should be our endeavor to stop importing components and assembling. Students, you can become great industrialists and make us proud.”

The intent of the design contest is to instill a competitive spirit amongst students undertaking projects at RV-VLSI, and to identify and select the best project. Four cash prizes sponsored by Rashtreeya Shiksana Samithi Trust and Mentor Graphics, and two Rolling Trophies were also announced.

Later, Venkatesh Prasad pointed out that there would be rolling shields in both embedded and VLSI categories, as well as for runner ups. Winners will receive a citation and cash award of Rs. 1 lac. Mentor Graphics is also putting in a cash award of Rs. 1 lac. The money will be shared by the team and the faculty.

The design contest will run for three months. Each team can have a minimum of two and a maximum of four members. “We will be looking at the clarity of thought and what they (students) have learned in the college,” he added: “The preliminary front-end will be done by the under graduates. It will be taken up by the graduates to take it to the next level.”

Before I close, I was a bit surprised to see students being unaware of the India Semiconductor Association. Friends, most of you would be probably working in the semiconductor industry. It would benefit to know about the industry association and its members. Please make that effort. Finally, best wishes to all of the participating teams in the design contest. It is always exciting to witness emerging talent!

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