CISE Announces the CGSW 8.0 Best Presenter Awards

From left: Christos Cassandras with CGSW 8.0 winners: 1st place: Jimmy Queeney; 2nd place: Arslan Riaz; and 3rd place (tie): Mert Toslali and (not pictured) Dawei Zhang.

Congratulations to  Jimmy Queeney, Ph.D. candidate SE (Advisors: Christos Cassandras & Yannis Paschalidis) who received the CGSW 8.0 Best Presenter award for his research presentation on Stable and Efficient Reinforcement Learning with Principled Sample Reuse. CGSW award finalists included Arslan Riaz, Ph.D. candidate ECE (Advisor: Rabia Yazicigil) who received second place for his presentation on Hardware Implementation of a Universal GRAND Decoder. Third place (tie) was awarded to Mert Toslali, Ph.D. candidate ECE (Advisor: Ayse Coskun) for his presentation on Iter8: Online Experimentation in the Cloud, and Dawei Zhang, Ph.D. candidate ME (Advisor: Roberto Tron) for his presentation on Safe and Stable Haptic Teleoperation via Control Barrier Functions.

The CISE Graduate Student Workshop (CGSW) is an annual event that provides students the opportunity to build their presentation skills in a fun and engaging way. At this year’s event, held on April 15th at Boston University, 18 CISE-affiliated Ph.D. students representing Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, and Systems Engineering presented their original research and competed to win The Best Presenter Award. Adam Tauman Kalai, Senior Principal Researcher from Microsoft Research, was the Plenary Speaker.

“I was excited to be involved in CGSW this year,” Queeney said. “It was a phenomenal opportunity to interact with graduate students across many different departments and learn about the exciting research they are conducting. The workshop led to many thoughtful discussions throughout the day, and I enjoyed sharing my research with the broader CISE community.”

CISE Director Yannis Paschalidis with CGSW 8.0 organizers Zongshun Zhang, Salomón Wollenstein-Betech, Mahroo Bahreinian, and Zachary Bezemek.

Opening remarks were made by CISE Director Yannis Paschalidis. “This is the eighth reincarnation of the CISE Graduate Student Workshop, attesting to the substantial history of this event. CGSW is a great opportunity for CISE students to hone their communication skills and a greater opportunity for all of us to learn about the exciting research done by CISE students and faculty. The caliber of this research is on par or better than what we see at major conferences.”

Plenary speaker Dr. Kalai spoke on artificial intelligence and gaming. His talk focused on python programming puzzles, and how a computer can spit out puzzles if it’s given training data, hence how AI can teach itself to program. Dr. Kalai engaged the audience by asking them to solve python problems and showed how computers were able to solve these problems.

This year’s event was organized by CISE student organizers: Dr. Salomón Wollenstein-Betech (SE), Mahroo Bahreinian (Ph.D. candidate SE), Zachary Bezemek (Ph.D. candidate Mathematics/Statistics), and Zongshun Zhang (Ph.D. student CS).

CGSW winners were determined by the audience. After each presentation, the audience ranked presentations under the categories of “language clarity,” “slide clarity,” and “engaging.” Head of the Division of Systems Engineering Christos Cassandras presented the CGSW 8.0 awards at the BU Castle reception.

“This workshop prepares students to go into academia or industry knowing how to display the significance of their work in a way that is engaging,” Cassandras said. “They’ve gained skills in effectively presenting with limited notes, maintaining eye contact, and going step by step in walking the audience through the research.”

Castle celebration with CGSW 8.0 presenters, attendees and organizers.

The CISE Graduate Student Workshop (CGSW) was conceived by CISE students in 2014 to provide a forum for graduate students to practice effective presentation skills. “This workshop reinforces the sense of community at CISE and brings together multiple disciplines that work on related topics,” Dr. Wollenstein-Betech said. “This comes at a pivotal moment where rebuilding community has become elemental given that the pandemic has affected the usual interaction among students and faculty.”