|from USBE and Information Technology magazine
by M.V. Greene
Sat, Oct 02, 2010
Three aspiring Jackson State University doctoral engineering students are proving that balancing work-life issues aren’t solely the domain of real-world professionals, managers and executives.
Ales-cia Malone, Antoinette Anderson and Nikeya Peay are computer engineering graduate students at Jackson State engaged with top-level laboratory research involving high performance reconfigurable computers. Each is expected to receive her master’s degree in 2011 and then move directly into Ph.D programs.
Their research, mapping scientific kernels onto reconfigurable computers using field-programmable gate arrays, is intense and cutting edge, Malone says, a native of Cleveland, MS. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Bridge to Doctorate Program, which assists institutions that have significant enrollments of minority populations and are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Each student has a particular research focus on the project, conducted in conjunction with the Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Each was brought together to form their research consortium after serving as interns at the center. Malone says the research is designed to help speed the computing power of supercomputers while reducing power-supply requirements for running applications.
“By our getting the research experience already, we know how we can use our research for our Ph.Ds and ultimately when we get into our careers,” Malone says.
Balancing the demands of their academic pursuits and research interests with campus, home, community and business interests requires “time management, a good support group and a lot of prayer,” Malone says, who has a 5-year-old son. A study, “Times Are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and At Home,” released in March 2009 from the IBM Corp.-funded Families and Work Institute noted that there is no difference today between young women with and without children in their desire to move to jobs with more responsibility – something in full accord with Malone’s ambition.
Anderson, who presented on behalf of the research group at the Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering (AMIE) national conference held in September 2010 at Jackson State, says maintaining a vibrant campus social life remains vital for her. Raised in Jackson, Anderson also is tuned into community service, such as visiting the classroom of her mother, a local teacher, to interact with children about STEM education and careers.
“I think that actually engaging in your social life can make you more of a well-rounded person. Most of my friends are my fellow colleagues and graduates of Jackson State University. Talking with them and interacting with them also serves you to do better in your own field,” Anderson says, noting she is engaged to a former Jackson State student who is a civil engineer and former football player at the university.
Malone, Anderson and Peay, all receiving their bachelor’s degrees from Jackson State in computer engineering, also are proving adept at balancing intensive summer work activities. Malone has spent the summers of 2009 and 2010 working at the Engineer Research and Development Center as a student researcher. Anderson and Peay served as summer exchange students during 2010 at Shaanxi Normal University in Xiʼan, China.
Additionally, Peay, a native of Baltimore and an all-conference collegiate golfer, spent time during 2007 and 2008 at the headquarters of athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer NIKE in Portland, OR, serving as an application engineer assisting in the development of prototypes for the NIKE Web site. Peay’s research focus on the master’s project is integrating quartus wizard-based VHDL floating-point components into a high performance heterogeneous computing environment.
“As an undergraduate I did four years of collegiate golf. That showed me how to focus and manage my time. It instilled a lot of discipline. I carried those roles onto my graduate studies,” Peay says.