Kairouz receives Roberto Padovani Scholarship from Qualcomm


Hayley Eselevsky, ECE ILLINOIS

Peter Kairouz
Peter Kairouz

ECE graduate student Peter Kairouz really stood out among the nearly 200 research and development summer interns at Qualcomm Inc. this past summer. His excellence resulted in him receiving Roberto Padovani Scholarship from Qualcomm.

The Roberto Padovani Scholarship was created in 2008 to recognize Qualcomm’s corporate research and development interns who demonstrate technical superiority during summer internships. The scholarship is named for Roberto Padovani, who was Qualcomm’s chief technical officer for almost a decade and who was a leading innovator of the company.

Kairouz was proud that his work was recognized and appreciated by his colleagues. “When you do research, you do it because you like it and it interests you,” he explained.  "But then discovering that other people take interest in and appreciate what you’re doing—that’s the additional bonus that was brought by the scholarship.”

Candidates for the scholarship were nominated by their mentors or managers at the end of the internship. All of the VPs in the organization then met and selected the recipients from the pool of candidates.

“The intern is nominated by management and is seen as a superstar and someone who has gone above and beyond in their internship projects and work,” said Natalie Taitano, a Qualcomm Inc. representative. “This is not an application process; it’s more of a selection process that the managers are making.”

Kairouz’s research this summer was in the area of communications and signal processing. His research while at Qualcomm focused on fixing the problem of cell tower interference in new and developing 5G technology.

“The next cellular generation will be characterized by dense small cell deployment, which means that many cells will be either idle or severing one user,” Kairouz explained. “Interference will not be continuous anymore; it is just bursty.”

This proposes the problem of how to design interference aware communication systems. He looked at solutions of how to manage this interference through controlling rates of communication.

Kairouz thoroughly enjoyed his internship and felt he learned a lot. He worked at Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego, California. While there he also met other engineering students from across the country who helped him with his work.

“They recruit the best students form topnotch schools, so you get to connect and talk to very smart students. They can help you with your research if you need it, and in return you can help them with their research,” Kairouz said.

“Peter has demonstrated very strong technical and analytical skills and is an excellent team player,” says Ahmed Sadek,Kairouz's mentor at Qualcomm. “He has potentially found a new and novel way for doing HARQ, which would benefit systems operations in the presence of bursty interference.”

Before leaving his internship at Qualcomm, Kairouz and his mentor filed a patent for the new technology they created. Currently, they are preparing a conference paper, which is one thing Kairouz is excited about.

“Besides the experience and the money, I got to publish and am receiving a patent,” said Kairouz “This is essential for a researcher, and for my future.”

The eight recipients of this year’s scholarship each receive a $5,000 academic scholarship. Any students who come back as a second-year intern or as an employee in the future are eligible to receive a return bonus. Currently, Kairouz does plan to return to Qualcomm for a second internship.