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Creating a Web-based system to test integrated circuit designs is the goal of a student immersed in electrical and computer engineering research this summer.

Volkan Oktem ’04 (Ankara, Turkey) is working with John A. Nestor, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, as a participant in Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholar program. In EXCEL, students assist faculty members with research while earning a stipend.

According to the professor, student designs for integrated circuits must be tested before they are fabricated to ensure a good chance that they will work properly. Testing identifies chips that have manufacturing flaws and design errors.

Oktem’s project focuses on Very Large Scale Integration or VLSI chips.

“After inserting a National Instruments card into the computer, programming is done in C/C++ and Java to create a user interface called an applet,” the student explains. “The applet reads commands inputted from the user and sends or receives the appropriate signals from the chip being tested.”

He says he is enjoying the work and “can actually see it being a very useful tool that can be used in educational institutions as well as, possibly, industries.”

“The project is coming along fine. I’m pretty much done. I just need to finish up the user interface, put it on the ‘Net and complete the documentation,” Oktem says. “The results have been very successful. The chips can be tested very easily and results are generated very quickly and compared to the simulated ones.”

The electrical and computer engineering and economics and business double major says Nestor has been very helpful to him.

“He knows exactly what he’s doing, exactly what he expects of me, and has helped me significantly in understanding the material not just by devoting his time, but also by giving me very useful books,” says Oktem.

He says the EXCEL program has enabled one-on-one interaction between himself and the professor, which has helped him learn a great deal. In addition, the flexible and independent work environment of EXCEL has put stress at a minimum.

“It is a really helpful and enjoyable program and allows students to pursue their interests outside of the college curriculum,” says Oktem. He adds that Lafayette is “a very open college,” which encourages students to expand their learning experience by attending classes outside of their majors.

“It is a small college environment, and the individual attention given to students by the faculty is really something special,” says Oktem. “It offers much, even outside of the academic curriculum, has plenty of resources, and allows people to basically make what they want out of their college experience.”

A graduate of Bilkent University Preparatory School in Ankara, Turkey, Oktem is a member of the French Club, Soccer Club, and Tennis Club. He also is a resident adviser and sports coordinator for the International Students Association.

Categorized in: Academic News