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IEEE-CICC, or Custom Integrated Circuits Conference, was held this last week in Austin. It was a first for me in a couple regards:

  1. First circuits conference that wasn’t ISSCC. CICC is definitely a “rank down” from ISSCC, which means it’s significantly more casual and laid-back. This made it definitely way more my style, as many of the people were kinder and more lenient when it came to networking or Q+A material.

  2. First time at a conference without my group. My entire research group goes to ISSCC, independent of having an accepted result (which is extremely kind of my adviser). Sure, everyone can do their own things, but we do tend to stick together and explore the city for the most part. Being solo meant I was really just on my own for all of that. Luckily, CICC was held in Austin TX, which is easily one of the best cities in the world, so that wasn’t exactly an issue.

  3. First time speaking! Yes, this is big one. My work from last year got accepted and published into this conference, which means I had to go and give a talk. You can follow along below if you’re interested 1. Time to ditch the listicle however.

I was the fourth out of five people to present during that session, which means I had to sit there and watch three people go before me and present (in my mind) significantly superior results. I was definitely starting to feel the sweat and nervousness as my body was just continuously racked with impostor syndrome. My biggest issue was that despite the fact my idea was cool, my measurements were terrible (due to a regrettable lack of chip-side buffering). Watching everyone else show slide after slide of clean crisp results started playing havoc on my mental state.

Also, as an aside, watching other people your work in public is just terrifying. There was small break between the third and fourth (mine) presentations, so I could see the whole room opening and glancing through my paper. Every little facial expression was free for me to over-analyze and worry about, which didn’t exactly help either. In retrospect, most of them were probably just squinting to read some of the smaller fonts and labels, but logic wasn’t with me there.

Regardless, I got through it! Every talk has some alloted time for questions at the end, which also worried me a bit. Almost everyone was very kind and understanding of my [poor] measurements, and just asked some relatively straight-forward questions on expanding simulation results. Lots of professional hand-shaking and smiling at the end, but it really did feel good to be done with it. If I ever get a chance to do it again, my biggest advice to myself would be to just stop over-thinking the whole time!

  1. Conference Slides ↩︎