Student Events at ISAF-ISIF-PFM 2021

May 26, 2021 | Contributed By - Kerisha Williams and Federica Benes, Student Representatives

Three virtual, student-focused events were organized during IEEE ISAF-ISIF-PFM 2021. These events included:

  • Student Social: Monday, May 17th, 06:00 PM AEST
  • Student Professional Networking: Wednesday, May 19th, 2021, 10:00 AM AEST
  • Student Pitch Competition: Thursday, May 20th, 05:00 PM AEST



Monday, May 17, 2021

06:00 PM Sydney / 04:00 AM New York / 10:00 AM Berlin / 04:00 PM Beijing

This was a casual social event targeted toward students. It was held on Monday the 17th at 6pm AEST and attended by approximately 30 students from around the world. Participants were randomly assigned to smaller randomized breakout rooms of about 4-5 people per room to facilitate conversations for about 10 minutes. Some attendees used custom Zoom backgrounds. Topics discussed included co-working, the weather, and adjusting life and research to the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration for the event was not required, but a reminder email was sent out 24 hours before the event. Thank you to all our attendees!



Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

9:00 AM Sydney / 07:00 PM New York (May 18th) / 01:00 AM Berlin / 07:00 AM Beijing

This networking event was for students to meet both academic professors and industry representatives. In total 1 professor, 1 industry professional and approximately 12 students attended. Participants asked to append their display name on Zoom with either “_S” for “Student” or “_P” for “Professional,” to facilitate organization. After a welcome from the student representatives, participants were divided into 2 groups with 1 professional per room.

In the first breakout room, the topic was finding a job – post PhD. The prevalent pieces of advice were to start networking early (1-2 years before graduation) by attending conferences and to not be afraid to reach out and follow up with folks you have met. Another piece of advice was to keep your mind open to all kinds of options post PhD and to put yourself out there. For the second round of conversation, students swapped groups and the topic was international collaboration. The advice for this round was very similar to the first round and emphasized putting yourself out there by just asking folks to work with you. In short, opportunity is all about networking and realizing that others are open and excited to work with new people.

The final topic of conservation was held in a larger group format and evolved around mental health and work life balance. Here, both professionals heavily advised time and priority management as well as having hobbies outside the PhD program, keeping a firm boundary with work hours and with others and sometimes “doing nothing at all”. Another major piece of advice was learning to accept failure without internalizing failure and at least one student talked about the benefits of regular therapy to help keep it all together. A special thank you to Dr. Andrea Erbes and Prof. Nagy Valanoor for their words of wisdom and encouragement!



Thursday, May 20th, 2021

05:00 PM Sydney / 03:00 AM New York / 08:00 AM Berlin / 03:00 PM Beijing


This live student pitch competition featured 8 contestants sharing their thesis work. After the welcome and introduction of the jury, each student delivered a 60-second pitch about their research, supplemented by a single slide. The jury had an additional 2 min to submit their scores during which contestants shared a little more about themselves or their work. It turns out, lots of folks in UFFC enjoy martials arts at some time or another in their lives!  After the presentations, the student representatives tallied up the scores while the contestants had a chance to ask the jury for feedback. This year saw two honorable mentions and one overall prize winner. Congratulations to our honorable mentions, Moa-Hua Zhang for his presentation entitled “Antiferroelectric NaNbO3: irreversible → reversible” and Olaniyan Ibukun for his presentation entitled “Ferroelectrics at the nanoscale”. This year’s overall winner was Ali Henriquez for her presentation entitled “The Relaxor Elephant in the Room.” Thank you to all contestants, winners, and our jury: Prof. John Daniels, Prof. Marco Deluca, and Dr. Andrea Erbes!