Ronaldo Sanchez worked at Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Silicon Design Lab creating a proof-of-concept chip to test various types of memristor-based memory cells.
Within days of his arrival on campus as a Rice University freshman, Ronaldo Sanchez, now a senior, switched his major from economics to electrical and computer engineering
(ECE). He has never regretted it.
“I’ve always liked computers, and I learned right away at Rice that there was a place for someone like me,” said Sanchez, the son of Nicaraguan immigrants who arrived at Rice with a $24,000-per-year Rice Trustee Distinguished Scholarship.
Last summer, Sanchez worked as a VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) design intern at Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Silicon Design Lab (SDL) in Fort Collins, Colo. He was assigned to a team working on creating a proof-of-concept chip to test various types of memristor-based memory cells. A memristor is an electrical component designed to limit or regulate current flow in a circuit while “remembering” the strength of the charge that previously had flowed through it.
“As an intern, I didn’t expect the circuit layouts I created to be printed and put onto actual chips, especially because I was assigned to such a cutting-edge project. This was not the case at the SDL. As the only intern on my team, I had opportunities to work closely with engineers to create circuit layouts that could be used and printed onto the actual chip,” Sanchez said.
He was assigned an HPE mentor who worked with him daily and taught him “a great deal about what it takes to be a successful VLSI engineer.” Over the summer, Sanchez created a decoder module to control and reprogram memristor-based memory cells, and laid out arrays of the cells.
Sanchez gives much of the credit for his success at HPE to his ECE classes at Rice, especially ELEC 422, “VLSI System Design,” taught by Joseph Cavallaro, professor of ECE and of computer science, and director of the Center for Multimedia Communication at Rice.
“In that class, we learned how to design circuit layouts using tools that are actually used in industry. I was able to quickly translate what I had learned in class to the work I was expected to do while working in the SDL,” said Sanchez, who continues to work remotely for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Sanchez is now taking ELEC 522, “Advanced VLSI Design,” also taught by Cavallaro. “Joe really cares about his students,” he said. He’s always there to help you and answer your questions.”
Sanchez’s post-graduation plans remain uncertain. He has already been offered a job with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, but contemplates first going after his master’s degree, possibly at Rice. “I don’t have to make a decision right away,” he said. “I’m very lucky.”