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Design Verification Competition Gives Portland State Students an Industry Advantage

As computer hardware designs become increasingly sophisticated, the need for quick, reliable hardware verification tools and the engineering expertise to use them becomes absolutely critical. To serve this industry need, an annual student competition is connecting Portland State engineering talent to careers in this emerging field.

The Need for Speed Veloce Emulation Competition is a partnership between Mentor Graphics and Portland State University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department that encourages students to explore hardware validation by presenting them with problems one might encounter in industry.  Such challenges are far beyond any that students typically run up against at the college-level, yet provide a tangible opportunity to unite many of the different areas they study.

“Unlike any other academic course, working on this project called for a broader set of skills and disciplines,” described Sameer Ghewari, a member of the 2014 winning team. “The challenge presented in the contest of demonstrating the speedup provided a hands-on opportunity to glean knowledge in RTL [register-transfer level], synthesis, verification methodologies, scripting and debugging.”

Need for Speed is designed to help participants develop a skillset that is highly attractive to potential employers. Many past participants report being directly recruited by Mentor Graphics and the other companies represented on the judging panel upon graduation.

“The competition clearly paved the way to understand the differences between emulation and simulation. Following the competition, I received a job at Mentor Graphics on the Design Verification Technology team as an Associate Rotation Engineer,” said Sanket Borhade, another previous participant and member of the first place team in 2014.

The second annual Need for Speed competition was held on October 9, 2015. Three teams competed for a total of $9,000 in prize money and the opportunity to showcase their abilities before a panel of industry executives.

First place, and $5,000 in prize money went to Hanu Karshala, Shrinivas Mathdevru, Sumit More, and Tejas Patwa for their project “Tomasulo’s Algorithm Extended to Handle Speculation Using Reorder Buffer.”

Second place and $3,000 was awarded to Ashol Raju Kothapalli for his project “MIPS Processor with Hazard Detection and Stalling.”

Third place and $1,000 went to Suma Eravatri and Praveen Jakkula for their project “I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit) Wishbone Bus Controller.”

All participants hailed from ECE’s graduate program.

The judging panel was composed of executive and senior management representing eight leading tech companies including: ARM Inc., Avago Technologies, Broadcom Corporation, Cisco Systems, Imagination Technologies, Intel Corporation, MicroTek USA, and Qualcomm Inc.

Computer architecture professor Mark Faust and Tom Schubert, a design verification and validation instructor, served as team mentors and helped coordinate the event. Schubert, who joined PSU in 2014 after 17 years at Intel, directs a graduate track in Design Verification and Validation. Through his leadership and industry collaborations such as Need for Speed, PSU seeks to establish a nationally-recognized program in Design Verification that cultivates verification engineers that can not only keep up, but also accelerate the pace of innovation.

“I strongly recommend participating in such a competition because the hands-on knowledge, experience of competition and opportunity to share your work in front of highly-skilled people is rare to receive,” offered Borhade.

Details about the next Need for Speed competition will be publicized in spring 2016.

2015 Global City Teams Challenge

A bike-mounted air quality sensor developed by a team of ECE seniors has been featured at the Global City Expo in Washington, DC.  The Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) selected the project as a key element of Portland's entry in the Global City Teams Challenge held on June 1st, 2015. (
The 2015 ECE Capstone project was developed by ECE seniors Ali Alavi, Robert Flory, Meng Lei, and Pedro Munoz, and advised by ECE faculty Dr. Malgorzata Chrzanowska-Jeske. The team designed and built a hardware module with a suite of sensors to be mounted on bicycles to collect environmental data, temperature, carbon monoxide, and small and big particle dust. The collected data is reported to a main module which is being developed by the Open Bike Initiative (OBI). The project is sponsored by Intel and the OBI (led by Brad Biddle). (

The King and Queen of The Netherlands were honored guests at the Global City event and Portland's entry was one of two projects (out of 40+ entries) that were showcased for the royal delegation. Photos show his Highness  learning about the technology and meeting representatives of the Portland team. At the Global City Teams Challenge Expo the ECE Capstone team was part of a larger team that consisted of groups from Portland State University, the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Technology Association of Oregon, Intel, and the IBI Group.


2015 Rhode & Schwarz Case Study Competition

For the second year in a row, a team of ECE students will be representing PSU and the USA in the Finals of the Rhode & Schwarz Case Study Competition. In April, Matt Downey, Benjamin Huntsman, Michael Walton, Greg Stromire and Andrei Kniazev beat a team from OSU at the Beaverton Rhode & Schwarz campus. In June, they will travel to the Rhode & Schwarz headquarters in Munich Germany to participate in the finals. This year, the competition’s theme is "Next Generations Networks." Teams are scored on their technical solutions, communication and organization skills. Join us in wishing Matt, Benjamin, Michael, Greg and Andrei all the best.


2014 PSU Veloce Emulation Competition – “Need for Speed”

“This was an outstanding inaugural event for our students and industry. The companies present, including Mentor Graphics, Qualcomm, and Xpliant, and Intel were impressed with the quality of the projects by our students. There is clearly a large need for more engineers with these skills, and we’re proud to be building a strong program in design verification to meet this need.” - Dr. James McNames, ECE Department Chair

1st Place - Sameer Ghewari, Sanket Borhade “Design & verification of 8x8 Time-Space Crossbar switch with 8b10b SerDes”
2nd Place - Steven Bellock “Computation of Jacobsthal’s Function Hardware Accelerator”
3rd Place - Kai Cong, Li Lei, Zhekun Yang “OpenRISC System-On-Chip Emulation"


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