International Symposium on System-on-Chip
SoC | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015



Lodging / Travel

Valid XHTML 1.1

Valid CSS!

Success Factors for Future System-on-Chip Research and Education Strategies


Prof. Jari Nurmi, Tampere University of Technology

Dr. Ulrich Ramacher, Infineon, Germany
Mr. Risto Mäkikyrö , TEKES (National Technology Agency of Finland)
Dr. Tony Kirkham, Institute for System Level Integration
Mr. Timo Yli-Pietilä, Nokia, Finland
Dr. Markku Mattila, Finland Ministry of Education
Prof. Jouni Isoaho, University of Turku, Finland


The panel session was initiated by each participant with a short presentation on a subject they considered important under the topic.

Ulrich Ramacher

Ulrich Ramacher emphasized the complexity of the modern state-of-the-art commercial digital system designs. According to Ramacher it is hard to get significant scientific results from multi mega port systems by having only ~100k academic design to work with. He said the solution for the problem is to achieve more cooperation between institutes and industry such that academic research group can use the commercial design e.g. by making one piece to it. He also pointed out that the industry has a lot more than FPGAs, which are the most common and the easiest way in an academic environment to implement digital designs but not used much in the real world applications even less in SoC ones. Finally, he said that the high quality of the education is of very high importance since the system design is so expensive.

Risto Mäkikyrö

Risto Mäkikyrö concentrated in his address to telling the purpose and task of TEKES to the international audience. TEKES is the main public financing and expert organisation for research and technological development in Finland. Tekes finances industrial R&D projects as well as projects in research institutes. Tekes especially promotes innovative, risk-intensive projects which are supposed to be commercialized in the near future.

Tony Kirkham

Tony Kirkham, our third panelist from Scotland, mentioned the mode of action in Britain in SoC education. He emphasized a lot the cooperation of academia and enterprises. In UK it is a problem to get motivated students to choose this field.

Timo Yli-Pietilä

Timo Yli-Pietilä mentioned that the variety of problems in SoC design makes the education really challenging. He pointed out that the approach in the institutes should be more from the system point of view rather than minor pieces such that every person could see in which way his own skills are used in the real-world systems. The point in the education should be that each student is involved in the whole design process rather than into a small pieces of it. Among others, he kept the cooperation between universities and industry in major importance since the institutes cannot afford to offer huge design assignments by their own.

Markku Mattila

Markku Mattila brought the political point of view to the panel. He told about the significance of the science and how it has been noticed during the last eight to ten years in Finland. He mentioned about the increasing funding for the research and education. In international level, cooperative study programs have been made. The government keeps the research important and tries to obtain easier ways for studying abroad. He reminded that the whole educational system in the whole Europe is in the revolution such that the studies are tried to be harmonized among European countries according the Bologna’s process.

Jouni Isoaho

Jouni Isoaho told how university system in Finland works and how it could be improved. The major points of his introduction were coherent research and education, overall system thinking, continuous profiling of research topics and multidisciplinary supervision of PhD students. The problem in education was from his point of view that research and education are evaluated in quantitative measures. The education and research have wrong values, i.e., money is in major role and actual problem solving is hidded, instead Isoaho preferred the strategy driven research and education.


The discussion itself consisted of answering the questions from the audience and commenting the claims of the participants.

Motivation to the study electronic engineering field

Discussion started with motivation issues of students. Kirkham pointed out that the education should concentrate, for example, more on what can you do with the car rather than teaching the existing basic electronic properties. Mäkikyrö mentioned the hugest problem at least in Finland: you need to study two years before you get into the studies of your specific field. Isoaho told that first year teachers should keep in mind the future of the students and tell them what is coming in the future. Mattila told about the situation in Finland. He claimed that the motivation is not a problem here and engineering studies are very much wanted. Yli-Pietilä emphasized the need for getting the students into problem solving quickly. Even in their first year studies. E.g. they could provide a little effort into some bigger project. Isoaho told about the how poor knowledge high school students have about the engineering and other studies. In the high school, students should be informed a lot more about where they are going. Unfortunately, in the current system they have to study two years until they see the actual field they should work on more than 30 years.

Motivating students with e.g. prototyping boards

Audience pointed out that students should have some chips to implement their school exercises. He told that Xilinx were granted some Universities with FPGA demo boards, and use of those was greatly motivated students. Yli-Pietilä quickly agreed with this having the reason that good education is followed by the skills industry need.

Job opportunities impact to the motivation to begin studies in a certain field

The audience mentioned that the job opportunities are not discussed at all, although those are very important motivation to begin studies in certain fields. It was said that e.g. in Germany the depression in IT-companies has catastrophically diminished the amount of new students in electrical engineering departments of universities. Kirkham told that 10 to 15 thousand jobs in IT industry are lost during the latest two years in Britain. He said that it is natural to have better and worse times in the industry and the depression is not the only reason why electronic engineering fields are not popular e.g. in Britain. Kirkham argued his opinion by saying that in very same time the job opportunities in content providing companies have diminished as well, but the interest to study the field has not diminished at all. Mattila gives very interesting point of view by telling that in Finland there is no problem of having too much or too less students or graduated because the government regulates student quotas so efficiently.

Content of studies

Then the discussion led into the contents of the studies. Mäkikyrö said that they have to be longer lasting which others did not seem to agree. Isoaho emphasized dynamically re-configurable studies.

Then the audience asked about how much the teaching should concentrate on how things are made and how much should be explained why things are made in a way they are. The question seemed to confuse most of the panelists. Finally, Yli-Pietilä started when he got the point. He said that why part is the one giving the motivation for students. Isoaho continued by emphasizing the importance of why part.

Importance of nano-technologies in research and education

The chairman asked two numbers from the panellists.
1. How many years it will take for nanotechnology to be in the use by industry and
2. how many percents of the funding should concentrate on that nowadays.

Isoaho started by answering that it is important to begin teaching of these things as soon as possible in universities. From the funding point of view he presented that the amount of funding depends very much from country to country i.e. is there manufacturing industry or not. Yli-Pietilä pointed out that new implementation technology leads into troubles. Finally, he also gave us numbers 5-10 years and 10-20%. Kirkham said that nano-technologies will be in use after 20 years and the funding of the research projects concerning those should be less than 5% of the total budget of electronic engineering. Mäkikyrö mentioned that only 5% of the funding of TEKES is concentrated to fields which are expected to be commercialized later than after 10 years of the begin of the project. Ramacher told that CMOS technology does not scale in the line widths under 10nm and new technology will work after 15-20 years. About funding he said that balance between implementation technology (i.e. cmos, nano, ttl etc.) and the system design should be found in funding.