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Olin Alumna Wins Second Place in Grand Finals of Competitive Research Competition

Recent Olin graduate Jennifer Vaccaro ’17 won second place in the undergraduate category at the grand finals of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Research Competition. The award winners were unveiled at the 2017 Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) awards banquet in San Francisco in June. This was also the occasion of the 50th Turing Award ceremony--a celebration of British scientist and computer science pioneer Alan Turing. 

The announcement culminated a year-long competition involving more than 330 computer science students who presented research projects at 24 ACM conferences nationwide. Vaccaro took second place, Victor Lanvin from ENS Paris Saclay took first and Martin Kellogg from the University of Washington took the third place in the undergraduate ranks.

“The experience was amazing,” said Vaccaro. “I was able to meet with top computing minds from both academia and industry at the event, and they were encouraging and friendly. Even though I am starting a job in August, I definitely feel graduate school is an option down the road.” 

Last year, after a summer internship at Intel Corporation, senior Jennifer Vaccaro earned a gold medal in the initial stages of the student research competition for her paper “Applying Computer Modeling to Post-Silicon Electrical Validation,” based on research she conducted at Intel.

Vaccaro submitted an abstract and flew to Austin, Texas for the poster session. In Austin, Vaccaro realized that her work had been accidentally accepted into the Ph.D. category. After this error was corrected, she advanced to give an oral presentation, for which she won a gold medal.

Vaccaro’s work is centered around post-silicon validation, in particular adjusting the settings on silicon boards to allow the chips on the board to communicate more reliably.  Her research is focused on using mathematical models to speed up the setting-adjustment process.

Through the Student Research Competition, each participating student has an opportunity to listen in on conference sessions, gain a new understanding of the practical applications of computer science scholarships, and share their own research with other students, conference attendees and eminent scientists and practitioners.

Judges assess each presenter’s demonstrated knowledge, the caliber of student contributions to the research and the overall quality of their oral and visual presentations. During the Grand Finals, the students share a written 4,000-word description of their work before the final step of the competition, when an entirely new panel of judges evaluates each student’s complete body of work and selects the overall winners.