Jeffrey Nelson: IBM/SRC Fellowship Recipient

 On the Winning Circuit

May 1, 2006

ECE graduate student Jeffrey Nelson is on the winning circuit--this year he won an IBM/SRC Fellowship through the SRC Graduate Fellowship Program, following a nationwide contest for outstanding academic achievement and microelectronics research. He also received a Benjamin Garver Lamme/Westinghouse Graduate Fellowship earlier in the year, and last year was selected for honorable mention in the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship competition. Whether on his motorcycle or in the lab, Jeff is on the move:


Born in Manhattan, grew up in Maplewood, NJ.


M.S. in ECE from Carnegie Mellon University, 2003, and B.S. in ECE from Rutgers University, 2002

Professional affiliations:

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) member.


Motorcycling, rock climbing, and playing Ultimate Frisbee.

How did you decide upon engineering?

I was good at science, math, and building things. The choice came pretty naturally. I also met the prerequisite of not needing to read a manual to set the clock on the VCR.

Why did you choose to come to the ECE Department?

ECE at Carnegie Mellon was my first choice of graduate programs. I looked through the research interests of faculty at many schools in addition to Carnegie Mellon, but by far Carnegie Mellon had the best combination of recognition and research topics that interested me. At the time I wasn't certain what exactly I wanted to work on, but CSSI [Center for Silicon System Implementation] had many projects that appealed to me.

Faculty advisors at Carnegie Mellon:

Shawn Blanton, Professor of ECE; Associate Director, CSSI and Wojciech Maly, U.A. and Helen Whitaker Professor of ECE.

What are your research interests?

My research interests span a range of issues in the manufacturing and testing of integrated circuits, including yield learning, defect modeling, diagnosing faulty chips, and ATPG [automatic test pattern generation] algorithms.

What are the benefits of being a teaching assistant (TA)?

I was a TA for 18-765 [Digital Systems Testing and Testable Design], twice. I had taken the course previously, so it was definitely interesting to see it from the other side of the fence. I had the opportunity as well to help revamp some of the projects associated with the course. It is nice to be able to leave even a small mark.

What was the focus of your internship?

I did an internship with Intel the summer before I enrolled at Carnegie Mellon, working on the design of an Ethernet switch.

Has your research been published?

I have co-authored several papers, and recently presented at the Design Automation and Test (DATE) conference in Munich, Germany this past March. That was definitely a great experience. I will be presenting another paper at the Design Automation Conference (DAC) in San Francisco this coming July.

What are some of the challenges of your research?

As with all research, exploring things that have never been attempted can be a daunting task. Just organizing your thoughts and ideas on the topic can sometimes be a challenge. More practically, much of the research we do starts in a very closed environment, where we have control over all the variables. Applying it in the real world on chips that are actually manufactured can create a whole new set of problems. Dealing with them is most certainly a challenge.

What have been some of your most rewarding moments at Carnegie Mellon?

It wasn't until I had been here for a few semesters that I realized the extent of the true Carnegie Mellon experience. I remember realizing all at once that I really am surrounded by some of the finest minds in the world. I can take classes from professors who practically invented the subject, and are only offered at a handful of universities around the world...Not to mention working on research projects with them.

On a more personal scale, my first accepted paper felt great. Having my work acknowledged by colleagues in the field as worthy of publication was definitely rewarding.

ECE graduate student Jeffrey Nelson won an IBM/SRC Fellowship.

ECE Professor Shawn Blanton, left, advises graduate student Jeffrey Nelson.


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