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Grandmother helped sow ODU engineering student’s interest in computers

by Cecilia Ramirez

Preslav Ivanov first became interested in computers as a middle school student in his native Bulgaria. He credits his grandmother, a mathematics teacher and computer programmer, for sparking his interest in math and physics by assisting him in solving real-world scenarios and emphasizing their universal applicability.

He also began taking apart the old computer that his grandmother once used to program, which started his fascination with computer architecture as a way to upgrade various hardware components to make the most out of an old device.

He believes that his "curiosity inspired him to explore building new computing platforms."

This May, he will graduate from Old Dominion University with 4.0 GPAs in two Bachelor of Science degrees -computer engineering and electrical engineering from the Batten College of Engineering & Technology. He also minored in computer science and completed a concentration in computer hardware systems. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. at Cornell University in the fall and describes his future aspirations to design "high-performance and energy-efficient computer architectures to be leveraged by artificial intelligence algorithms."

Preslav took online classes to finish his undergraduate degrees while being involved in a research internship with Project Brainwave at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. His internship at Microsoft enabled him to work directly in the development of an FPGA computer architecture for accelerating artificial intelligence computation on the Microsoft Azure Cloud. Upon graduation, Preslav will continue his work with Microsoft as a contracting hardware design engineer until he starts graduate school.

"Preslav has been a role model to students interested in undergraduate research," said Oscar Gonzalez, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering.

Prior to Microsoft, Preslav was awarded a prestigious internship with the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC) at the University of Virginia that ran from May to August 2019. His work could have an impact in the design of future computer memory chips.

"I worked at the High-Performance Low-Power Lab at U.Va. led by Professor Mircea Stan. We were emulating processing in memory systems and showing how they behave. Since the project that I worked on was just getting started, two Ph.D. students and I were the ones who were doing initial research and building its foundations, so my work was meaningful, and I developed a very good working relationship with the other participants," he said, adding that he hopes his work will be recognized in a conference paper.

His senior design project, ODU IGVC Plus Night Vision, represented ODU at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., in June 2019. This international, university competition was focused around the auto-navigation of an obstacle course by autonomous robotic vehicles. Some of the project work involved enhancing the vehicle's object-detection capabilities with computer vision and employing artificial neural networks for processing image data.

Preslav moved to Virginia Beach in 2011 and graduated from Cox High School in Virginia Beach before enrolling at ODU.

"I chose ODU due to its proximity to major technology companies and after hearing about the excellent reputation of its engineering program from ODU faculty and students that I knew," he said.

He has had a stellar academic career. He is a recipient of several scholarships, including the Electrical and Computer Engineering Scholarship, the ODU Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship for the Batten College of Engineering & Technology, the ODU Presidential Scholarship, Edward L. White Jr. Scholarship, and Edgar A. and Kathleen Kovner Scholarship.

He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society for academic excellence (for seniors in the top fifth of the Engineering class). He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, ODU Association of Computing Machinery and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

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