The IEEE Region 4 Student Leadership Conference was hosted by the University of Minnesota during October 4th -6th, 2013. A group of six students from IIT including four undergraduates and two graduate students as well as participants from other universities in Region 4 attended the conference. Region 4 includes all parts of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, USA and Windsor Area Canad. There were invited speaker sessions, leadership trainings and contests in which IIT students won first place. The speaker session covered a variety of topics including the current state of art scientific research, professional and leadership development.
The first speaker session was by Ms. Cheryl Moeller on IEEE STEP (Student Transition and Elevation Program). She spoke about how the STEP program introduces opportunities and benefits of IEEE membership while providing a swift transition from student member to professional member. Dr. Nikolas Papanikolopoulos of University of Minnesota talked about his projects on vision-based sensing and classification of vehicles, and the recognition of human activity patterns in public areas and while driving.
Dr. Greg Mowry of University of St. Thomas was one of the most interesting speakers. He is a brilliant scientist, engineer and professor today who left his six- figure paying job for ethical reasons. Dr. Mowry attended Iowa State University, Stanford and University of Minnesota for his B.S, M.S., and PhD. He spent his entire corporate life as an inventor in fortune 500 companies as an R&D scientist and engineer. He talked about his experience in all these work environments and how he moved to academia.
The various contests in the conference included Micromouse (a challenging and popular robotics competition), Brown Bag (circuit design competition), Ethics competition and Project showcase competition. The team for Micromouse was led by Gabriel Vlas, Michal Bialas, and Swasti R. Khuntia. They had to construct an autonomous mouse that navigates to the center of a random maze starting from a specified corner. Brown bag team comprising of Alejandra Rodriguez and Rohit Agarwal won the first place. For the Ethics competition, Aditya Kumar from IIT had to team up with students from other universities in which they had to devise a solution for an ethical dilemma.
The banquet dinner had a remarkable keynote speaker, Dr. Massoud Amin. He holds multiple responsibilities in the University of Minnesota. Dr. Amin is the Director of the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI), Honeywell/H.W. Sweatt Chair in Technological Leadership, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and University Distinguished Teaching Professor. Prior to that, he has served Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), United States (US) Dept. of Defense, US Air Force, US Army Research Office, US Dept. of Energy, NSF, etc. He talked about his experience as a power system researcher as how he initiated, successfully created and managed research and development towards the smart self-healing electric power grid. Then he described how he developed more than twenty four advanced technologies to enhance the security of national critical infrastructures. It was one of the most informative talks in the conference. Overall, the conference was an amazing experience for all the attendees.
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