Published April 4, 2017
by Christian Miller
Aosen Wang's first job was as an algorithm software engineer at Vimicro, a multimedia chip design firm not far from his hometown of Siping, in China's Ji Lin Province. His job was strictly on the software side, tweaking code to improve chip efficiency. It was a perfectly respectable start for the career of a graduate of the prestigious University of Science and Technology of China. But Aosen suspected that greater victories were within reach.
"I realized that not so much could be improved at the software level," he said. "I wanted to get into the lower hardware layers where big performance improvements could be made." Time delays could be foreshortened. Accuracy improved. He wanted to contribute his own innovative ideas to the field. For that, he came to Buffalo.
But, having arrived at UB, he discovered that the freedom to chart his own research course was unexpectedly daunting. "I was scared before coming here," he said. "Research is difficult, cutting-edge. Maybe I don't have answers."
Things improved when he found a kindred spirit in faculty advisor Wenyao Xu, who shares his interest in low power computer architecture design. "The most important thing has been help from my advisor," said Aosen. "At our first meeting, he told me not to worry. He taught me how to do the research, the discussion, the background, which parts to pay attention to, and how to optimize the results."
With Dr. Xu's help, Aosen found his groove. "I published my first paper after my first semester." By his second year, he won the 2016 CSE Best Graduate Research Award. "I find it's not so difficult. Research is a change process. From being scared to being interested in it. Students and faculty are willing to help, just like family. I can ask silly questions. Algorithms and machine learning techniques. At first, I feel the research is very difficult, but now I feel this is a very good topic. I keep asking my advisor to let me work on more ideas."