Outstanding Graduate Students Recognized with 2023 ECE Departmental Awards

May 9, 2023

CLEMSON – Please join us in recognizing this year’s winners of the 2023 department-wide graduate student awards in Electrical and Computer Engineering. These awards have been presented annually for 38 years and are given to graduate students who have shown exceptional performance in laboratory teaching, research, and service in the previous year.

(L-R) ECE Graduate Program Coordinator Dr. Harlan Russell, Siwei Zeng, Vishwas Powar, Dr. Rajendra Singh, Dr. Apoorva Kapadia after the presentation of the 2023 ECE Graduate Student Awards. 

Siwei Zeng is the recipient of the Holcombe Graduate Student Award for the Outstanding Graduate Researcher in 2023 based on the recommendation of a faculty member and evaluation by a committee of ECE faculty, which found his record of research productivity and scholarship outstanding. 

Siwei Zeng is a PhD student in Electrical Engineering. His dissertation research is focusing on development of chip-scale beam combining.
He was nominated by his advisor, Prof. Lin Zhu. Siwei has been a research assistant since enrolling at Clemson in August 2017. Prior to that, he obtained his M.S. degree in University of Science and Technology of China and his B.S. degree in the Wuhan University of Technology.
His impressive work on chip-scale wavelength beam combining demonstrates a watt-level beam combining system with the help of the reflective semiconductor optical amplifier and arrayed waveguide grating. This reduces the cost, size, weight, and power consumption of next generation direct diode laser systems. He also purposed and demonstrated a hook-shape semiconductor optical amplifier to reduce the alignment complexity in photonic integration compared to a traditional traveling-wave approach. This makes it a potential candidate for applications in high density hybrid integration.

While a graduate student at Clemson, he has published ten research articles in prestigious journals such as Optics Letters, Optics Express, the IEEE Photonics Journal, Nature Communications, and AIP Advances. He is also a co-author on eight additional conference publications primarily at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics. Recently, a US patent he contributed to was issued in October 2022. The title of the patent is “High-power single-mode triple-ridge waveguide semiconductor laser”.

Vishwas Powar is the recipient of the Holcombe Graduate Student Award for the Outstanding Graduate Laboratory Teaching Assistant in 2023. The recipient of the award is determined based on evaluations by undergraduates enrolled in ECE laboratory courses and assessment by the faculty supervisors of the laboratories.

Vishwas has been a TA for many of the EE labs and has excelled in all of them. His consistently strong reviews are a testament to his ability, versatility and hard work. He has also been instrumental in assisting Prof. Apoorva Kapadia, the ECE Laboratory Coordinator, in training new TA’s, and provide mentoring support as they get comfortable with the many demands of teaching introductory labs. In addition, Vishwas’ insight has been invaluable in maintaining and updating the laboratory manuals and suggesting equipment and component upgrades to ensure that the students have the best possible experience in ECE lab courses.

Some of the comments from students in his labs include:
Vishwas was extremely helpful inside the laboratory and during office hours. He was able to make the Labs very compelling and an enjoyable experience that I looked forward to every week.” and “Without a doubt, Vishwas is my favorite teacher I’ve ever had while at Clemson. I say teacher because I have not learned material as fast or as well under any other professor or TA on campus.”

VIshwas Powar is also the recipient of the Holcombe Graduate Student Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Service in 2023.  The recipient of this award is determined based on service to the department and/or the university as a member of the Graduate Student community. In particular, nominees are recognized for volunteer service activities that enhance the educational, professional, and collegial experiences of ECE students, aid the Department in effective fulfillment of its educational mission, or aid the Department in outreach to prospective engineering students. In particular, nominees are recognized for volunteer service activities that enhance the educational, professional, and collegial experiences of ECE students, aid the Department in effective fulfilment of its educational mission, or aid the Department in outreach to prospective engineering students

Vishwas has served as the Graduate Student Mentor for two Creative Inquiry undergraduate research projects. He led one team spanning 6 academic majors to design a solar and battery energy management system as part of the Department of Energy’s Solar District Cup 2019-2020. His team was one of the top 35 finalists to present their case study to a panel of industry experts. Another research group he led was for transforming short distance golf carts with on-board solar panels to considerably reduce charging time and increase travel distance. This research work has been featured in Clemson’s Decipher Magazine.

Vishwas has provided invaluable service in support of recruiting activities for new graduate students. He is often tapped for graduate student recruiting sessions because of his ability to connect prospective students. He is able to talk about the experience of being a new graduate student in a new country and this goes a long way in giving confidence to the students that they to can make the jump to Clemson.

Vishwas has also served as a graduate student senator, volunteered with the local IEEE branch and is the chair of Clemson’s IEEE Power & Energy Society Student Chapter. He is currently leading an effort to revive the ECE Graduate Student Association to better facilitate graduate student interactions among peers, post-doc researchers, professors, and staff. The goals include promotion of research and professional initiatives such as three-minute thesis competitions, organize seminars, and developing professional contacts.


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