Chapter D9:Student Competitions Chair

Prepared by Dr. James J. (Jim) Komiak (2009)

Table of Contents

o       IMS2010

o       IMS2011

o       IMS2012

o       IMS2015

o       IMS2017


Purpose and Duties

The mission of the IEEE MTT-S IMS Student Competitions Chair is to organize and run the Student Paper Competition, the Student Design Competitions, and the Student Award Luncheon.

Student Paper Competition

The Student Paper Competition was started to encourage and recognize excellence in research in microwave science and technology.My archives have limited information as to its beginnings, but at IMS1994 the MTT-S Student Paper Competition had a one paragraph announcement in the International Microwave Symposium Program that student papers would be presented on Tuesday evening in the San Diego Marriott Hotel.Today, the Student Paper Competition has become one of the largest events at IMS.For IMS2009 almost 25% of the papers submitted had a student as the primary author and qualified for the competition.A full page was devoted to the Student Paper Competition in the IMS2009 Program.The purpose of the competition remains to determine and acknowledge the best student work of the year in the MTT-S.Each student paper is subject to the regular review process by the Technical Program Committee. Based on the review scores only the best student papers are accepted as finalists. The finalists are given complimentary registration for IMS, complimentary tickets to the MTT-S Awards Banquet, and travel subsidies. The student finalists present their papers at the appropriate regular sessions and make presentations at a special Interactive Forum on Tuesday where they are evaluated by a group of judges.Six top papers and four honorable mentions are selected to receive cash awards (one first $1000, two second $500, three third $300) and certificates.These are announced and presented at the Student Awards Luncheon on Thursday.

IMS2009 Student Design Competitions

In 2004, the High Power Amplifier Technical Committee of MTT-S began discussing the idea of a Student Design Competition during its deliberations.Despite the growing importance of RF and microwave technology in our lives, study of this field has not attracted as much attention as it should.Engineering students favored computer and digital electronics, and consequently the number of university students interested in microwave engineering was on a decline despite high demands in the job market for graduates with these skills.The lack of new engineering graduates prepared to work in this field had become a concern.As one step in remedying this situation, MTT-5 decided that a competition might attract students to the study of microwave electronics by providing them an exciting challenge, or at least make them aware of its importance to our society.

The first Student High Efficiency Power Amplifier Design Competition took place at the 2005 International Microwave Symposium (IMS) in Long Beach, CA, the second competition at IMS2006 in San Francisco, CA, the third competition at IMS2007 in Honolulu, HI, and the fourth competition at IMS2008 in Atlanta, GA.The competitions have been extremely successful and have been recognized as an innovative educational activity.In fact an initiative within the Technical Committees of MTT-S has been started to organize other student and practitioner competitions.At IMS2008 there were two additional student competitions:Packaged X-band Filter sponsored by MTT-8/MTT-12 and Low Power FM Radio Receiver sponsored by MTT-16/MTT-20/MTT-23.IMS attracts authors from all over the world and is considered the most prestigious microwave conference hence it is a perfect venue for these competitions.

For IMS2009 the student competition topics were high efficiency power amplifier, low noise amplifier, and packaged ultra-wide-band filter. These topics are geared toward the practical applications that working engineers face everyday and therefore represent an excellent opportunity for students to show off how well prepared they are for a professional career.The Student Design Competitions are co-located with the Student Paper Competition forming a day long event on Tuesday.

Suggested Membership Structure

The Competitions are primarily organized by the Student Competitions Chair but with help and support from others.An assistant helps with collecting the Student Paper Competition nominations at the TPC paper selection meeting and soliciting judges for this competition.The assistant also helps in running the Interactive Forum that contains the Student Paper Competition.Judges are solicited from each of the TPC sub-committees.For the Student Design Competitions, these are principally organized and run by the MTT-S TCs.However, the Student Paper Competition Chair ensures the Student Design Competitions are publicized and that the venue is scheduled with the proper set-up.The Student Competion Chair also creates the Student Award Luncheon Agenda and is MC of that event.Other interactions include:

  1. General Chair:general program issues
  2. Operations and Treasurer:budget, checks
  3. TPC Chair:program schedule
  4. Publications:publicity, advance program, luncheon program, website, magazines
  5. TPMS Chair:automatic e-mails and data on papers
  6. Competition Judges:approximately one from each TPC sub-committee
  7. TC members:requirements, publicity, scheduling Design Competitions
  8. Registration: complimentary registration and banquet ticket
  9. Student Activities/Volunteer Chair:NSF grants and travel subsidies
  10. Local Arrangements Chair:room requests and assignments, catering, A/V needs
  11. Photographer:pictures during Competitions and Awards Luncheon

Timeline of Events

  1. June:Prepare Student Paper Competition write-up for the Call For Papers basing it on the previous year IMS CFP.
  2. July:Student Paper and Competition descriptions, call, rules posted on IMS web site.Solicit Student Competition information from TCís (MTT-S web site lists current and past chairs and contact information).Update as information is made available.Student Paper Competition Rules
  3. August:Make sure Student Volunteer Chair submits a proposal to NSF to fund travel for the Competition finalists from the US universities.
  4. September:Provide Operations/Treasurer/General Chair with the budget for the Competitions and Awards Luncheon based on the previous year actuals.
  5. October:Get the TPC roster from the TPC Chair.Assign one Judge from each Sub-Committee before the TPC meeting by asking the TPC Vice Chairs to serve as a Judge.If they decline ask the SC Chair or some one in the same SC to serve on behalf of them.Judge Invitation Form
  6. During the paper submission process, students have to indicate that this paper is a student paper. They also have to provide their advisor's name and his/her e-mail address. Advisors are sent an e-mail requesting verification of student status.This is all automated in TPMS.This helps to minimize follow-up emails and tedious manual confirmations after the Student Paper Competition finalists are selected.However, not all advisors respond.You will also get multiple spam messages subsequently as there is no way to differentiate between finalists and accepted student papers (paper form at TPC).There also may be irate emails from advisors as to why they have to certify multiple times.Also questions of whether my student is a finalist or not.Handle it.
  7. Access to TPMS should be granted to the SPC Chair.This allows access to scores in each SC for score "normalization" of the Student Paper Finalists as well as student and advisor emails.
  8. November:Follow-up on judges (those that have not responded to first email request).Resolve scheduling issues between Student Competitions.
  9. December:In preparation for the TPC Meeting prepare the viewgraph and score sheet.ViewgraphScore SheetStudent papers, along with all other submissions, reviewed by the members of the IMS Technical Program Committee (TPC) in each subcommittee. The TPC subcommittees are required to review all papers with the same standard, irrespective of their status as student paper submissions. This simplifies the reviewing process and warrants an acceptable homogeneity of evaluation.
  10. January:Homogeneity of evaluation among papers coming from different SCís is important.For this purpose, the final score of the student paper depends also on the score the paper obtained when it was evaluated as a regular one by the SC, i.e., ďnormalizeĒ the score of the student papers by the scores of the papers evaluated and accepted by the SC spreadsheet .Effort is required for collection of the hardcopy student paper ranking forms during the TPC.An assistant to help to collect this information is strongly encouraged.Suggest implementing an electronic procedure for the finalist nomination process.
  11. January Post TPC:Normally there are a maximum of three authors on a student paper, the first author being the student.I allowed up to five on a case by case basis if a good rationale could be provided why there were so many names.An example is where interdisciplinary research occurred such as bio-medical applications.Vetted nominations down to 24 which is manageable for judging.
  12. January Post TPC:Finalists are notified by e-mail and invited to present their work not only in a regular session, but also at the Student Paper Competition.Inform the Finalists about interactive forum format, registration, and student travel grants.The guidelines/application form should be posted to the web site.The finalists were asked to provide their citizenship status in order to estimate how many finalists can be supported using NSF funding, which requires US citizenship or permanent residency.Ask for photos and IRS Forms W8/W9 (for awards program; winners are still TBD but easier to collect this from everyone now).Instruction LetterIF Guidelines ††Form W8Form W9Travel Grant
  13. January Post TPC:Large effort to receive a confirmation of student status by all the advisors.Not all advisors responded to the automated TPMS request for certification.Of the 232 student papers submitted only 102 certifications were received.As such only eleven certifications were available for the 24 student paper finalists.I was given editor status on TPMS so that I could secure information using the paper number from the paper forms submitted by the sub-committees of the TPC.This included email addresses for the student and the advisor.
  14. February:The list of Student Paper Finalists was prepared, formatted, and submitted for the Program Guide, the Technical Paper Digest, and on the web site.No separate action was taken to notify students whose papers were not selected as finalists.
  15. February:Send list of Finalists, Scholarships, Fellowships, to Registration Chair (actually MPA Nannette Jordan) for complimentary registration for them and Awards Banquet ticket for themselves and advisor.This was not adequately communicated to the students and very few showed up at the Awards Banquet (Wednesday evening) which is different than the Student Awards Luncheon (Thursday noon).
  16. Need to know MTT-S Fellowship and Scolarship Award Winners for their complimentary registration and bandquet ticket, as well as the Awards Luncheon agenda.Work with the Scholarship Chair Rhonda Franklin ( who is taking over from Rashuanda Henderson; donít know if John Papapolymerou ( [Fellowships] and Roger Kaul ( [Medical Fellowships] will be in charge next year.The Education Chair, Liasons, and AdCom are worthless.Work with these folks or successors.
  17. Prepare the selection of papers for each Judge.speadsheet

Prepare the ballots for the Judges.ballot

Send the individualized ballots with assignment of papers and instructions to each Judge.instructions

  1. Submit Event Request Forms: SPC Judges Meeting (U shape table, projector, refreshments); Make sure the Student Paper venue and Student Competitions venue is scheduled and Event Request Form submitted.Make sure the Student Awards Luncheon is scheduled and create an agenda.Get input from MTT-S Education Committee for the printed MTT-S Student Awards Luncheon Program (the recipients are known by April 15th).Event Request Form submitted.
  2. April:Prepare Award Certificate forms and procure award folders.
  3. April:Meeting held with Student Activities/Volunteer Chairs who are co-ordinating the applications for student travel subsidies and grants and Conference Chair.Prioritized applicants, will award comp rooms and the $ amount based on travel distance by priority.Applications after deadline are not being accepted.Received notification from Education Committee Members that comp IMS registration and banquet ticket should go to MTT-S Scholarship and Fellowship recipients.Arranged this with Nannette Jordan of MPA.A Fellowship recipient email received stating that he was promised lodging and travel subsidy as winner.Fred Schindler believes this should be a MTT-S expense not IMS and is checking on this.Proved true.Scholarships and Fellowships are MTT-S not IMS expenses.
  4. Re-communicate to each Judge the selection of papers that she/he has to review during the IMS (one month before IMS).Communicate the time and location of the SPC Judges Meeting to the Judges.
  5. Two weeks before IMS:Surprises:

Several requests for power and small table for hardware demonstration during Student Paper Competition poster session (put in request).

Harold Sobol Travel Grant Award.Goes to 1st place paper.Certificate to this years winner to be awarded during MTT-S Student Awards Luncheon.Last years winner to receive plaque and check at Awards Banquet.Duty of AdCom Awards Committee but must co-ordinate.They screwed it up during IMS2009.Showed picture of IMS2008 winner at Awards Banquet Wednesday night but he did not receive plaque and check.Certificate given to me for presentation at the Student Awards Luncheon Thursday noon was made out to IMS2008 winner not IMS2009 winner.

Student finalist still lacking Visa wants to arrange alternatives:Advisor present (no; against the rules); virtual presentation (lack of interaction that the paper contest is all about); telecom (inconvenient as there are 31 judges and 7 papers per judge in 2 hour judging period).To be resolved.Decision made to deny but student got visa one day before.Recommendation is to send out visa instructions with the instruction letter.

  1. Week before IMS:

Make sure a second person is able to assist the SPC Chair in collecting data during the SPC Poster Session and Judges Meeting.Jim Hwang volunteered in 2009 and also assisted at the TPC Paper Selection Meeting since we were both on SCís (also necessary).

Prepare labels for the posters so the students and Judges can find their assignments.labels

Push Pins, Certificate Paper (bought at Straples).

  1. Tuesday:Check that the rooms for the two events (Paper & Competitions) are OK.Competitions was OK, SPC room was empty.Contacted War Room to get rectified and did a bit of moving myself. Additional help in collecting and finalizing data during the SPC Poster presentation is encouraged.There is a short time to collect and organize data in a spreadsheet between the end of the SPC Interactive Forum poster session and the beginning of the Judges meeting.
  2. Projector is needed in the Judges Meeting room to perform the final roll call but it was unnecessary except to answer questions.If the judge gave me scores at the end of session (went a bit long) I did not require them to be present.One first, two second, three third and four honorable mentions are determined.
  3. Wednesday:Fill out award certificates and get award checks from treasurer for SPC (turn in W8/W9 Forms).Co-ordinate with the TC Design Competitions to see if they need help.certificates
  4. The Student Awards Luncheon includes several events: Student Paper Competition, the presentation of MTT-S Undergraduate Scholarship awards, MTT-S Graduate Fellowship awards, acknowledgement of the IMS Student Volunteers, and the announcement of the winners of the Student Competitions.


Previous to IMS2009 the Student Awards Luncheon could be described as unorganized chaos due to lack of definition of responsibilities for the organization of this event such as Agenda, Event Request Form, Printed Program.The whole event required interactions between many different chairs.Having witnessed this for IMS2009, I took charge, collected information, and organized the MTT-S Student Awards Luncheon.A person in publications was assigned to get the Luncheon Program printed with information furnished.Better co-ordination between Education Committee, Student Paper Chair, and AdCom can be achieved.AdCom is the most delinquent and intractable.

  1. Transfer material including hand-off report to the next IMS Student Paper/Competitions Chair.The best moment for the procedure is during and after the Award Luncheon.At that time all the ideas are fresh in the mind and they can be easily and naturally transferred to the next Chair.

Description of Events

Event Request Forms

Student Paper Competition

Student Design Competition

Judges Meeting

Student Awards Luncheon

Problems Encountered

Harold Sobol Travel Grant Award.Goes to 1st place paper.Certificate to this years winner to be awarded during MTT-S Student Awards Luncheon.Last years winner to receive plaque and check at Awards Banquet.Duty of AdCom Awards Committee but must co-ordinate.They screwed it up during IMS2009.Showed picture of IMS2008 winner at Awards Banquet Wednesday night but he did not receive plaque and check.Certificate given to me for presentation at the Student Awards Luncheon Thursday noon was made out to IMS2008 winner not IMS2009 winner.

Suggestions and Recommendations

To avoid confusion do not co-locate the SPC and RFIC interactive forum poster sessions in future IMS.This was not a problem for IMS2009, but was significant at both IMS2007 and IMS2008.

Optimize the judge effort during the Student Paper Competition by pre-assigning a subset of presentations to judges.About 6 to 7 papers per judge is optimal for a 2 hour judging.If there is a judge from each TPC SC (~ 30), with no shows and abstains, that is 6 to 10 per paper (adequate to be statistically significant).


The Student Paper and Design Competitions at IMS have proven to be very successful events, as evidenced by the ever increasing student participation and the support it has enjoyed from the organizers, both logistically and financially. It is hoped that after IMS2009, the organization and procedures are well established.

Multiyear IMS Student Competition Winners


IMS Recent Reports







IMS2012_Reports\Release_Student _paper _Finalists_March_1_2012.pdf



IMS2012_Reports\SPC-judge evaluation form_June_2012.doc




IMS2015_Reports\IMS CONNECT TIMELINE 032315.docx


IMS2015_Reports\IMS15-PC-Survey-Panel-Graduate Student.pdf


IMS2015_Reports\IMS2015_SPC_Documentation.pdfIMS2015_Reports\Pre-Conf-00-WB-IMS2015 _Workbook for Team Exploration_v4.docx

IMS2015_Reports\Pre-Conf-00-WB-IMS2015_ Presentation Expectations_v3.pdf

IMS2015_Reports\Pre-conf-00-WB-IMS2015_Membership Sample Interview Questions_v3.pdf



IMS2017_Reports\2710 IMS2017 Student Paper Competition.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\2720.1 IMS2017 Student Design Competitions.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\2720.2 IMS2017_SDC_Application_Instructions.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\2720.3 IMS2017_SDC_Schedule.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\5110.1 Brevity, Clarity, Engagement - The IMS2017 Three Minute Thesis Competition.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\5110.2 IMS2017_3MTR_Rules.pdf