Alumni Spotlight Archive
Bringing His ENG Education Overseas
Spyros Vassilaras (MS ’97, PhD ’02)
Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering graduate students include a high percentage of international students with totals reaching 68% in 2011-12.
Spyros Vassilaras (MS ’97, PhD ’02) was one of the many students who traveled overseas to study in Boston. After earning not one but two degrees from BU, he returned to his home country, Greece, and joined the faculty at the Athens Information Technology Center for Research and Education (AIT) to help continue and pass along his passion for computer networks and data communications.
AIT, founded in 2002, is a small, nonprofit research center in Greece. Because AIT is not technically a Greek state university, gaining funding and recognition can be difficult. On the other hand, just like at U.S. universities, students and faculty at AIT take or teach undergraduate and graduate courses, publish journal and conference papers, organize international conferences, and perform scientific research, mainly funded by the European Union.
“Since I arrived at AIT, I have continued doing research in the field of data communications and networks but have shifted focus from the wired to the wireless domain,” said Vassilaras. More specifically, he has investigated MAC, routing, scheduling, cross-layer optimization, and security issues in wireless links, wireless sensor networks, mobile ad hoc networks, and cognitive radio networks.
Professor Ioannis Paschalidis (ECE), who advised Vassilaras at BU, said that, “AIT is by far the best private research institute in telecommunications in Greece and has faculty and staff like Spyros who are of the highest quality.”
Being a young faculty member at a new, little-known institution can be extremely challenging for Vassilaras, but he uses many skills he learned at BU to be successful at AIT.
“I still remember from my BU years a fun presentation by Professor Paschalidis,” said Vassilaras. “He had formulated his own time management puzzle as a mathematical optimization problem which he then proved to be infeasible, unless he could ‘learn to say no.’”
At AIT, Vassilaras continues to think about time management as he takes on numerous roles and struggles with busy schedules. He advises BU ECE students to keep the right balance between breadth and depth in their studies and take any opportunity they can get for summer internships within the industry.
“Spyros is very methodical, responsible, conscientious, and committed to his work,” Paschalidis said of his former student. “He has the right value systems and does not look for easy ways out.”
Vassilaras believes his time as a teaching assistant at BU, as well as helpful professors like Paschalidis, allowed him to realize how fulfilling teaching can be, and he couldn’t be happier with his academic career path.
-Samantha Gordon (COM ’12)