ECSE Co-term student wins 2023 Analog Devices Outstanding Student Designer Award

Posted February 21, 2023
headshot of a smiling white man with brown hair and a brown beard wearing a blue button-down shirt and black blazer
Congratulations to Nico Altomare!

ECSE Co-term student Nico Altomare has been awarded the 2023 Analog Devices Outstanding Student Designer Award. The award is given to a graduate student in IC design, and will be given to them before 2023 ISSCC. All RPI students are eligible, and the award is primarily intended for graduate students early in their graduate studies, but an exceptionally qualified undergraduate may also receive the award. The award is for excellence in RF, analog, mixed-signal, digital IC design, or system-level IC architectures. The nominees should have excellence in class work, excellence in project or thesis work and potential for outstanding industrial contribution.

Prof. Mona Hella of the ECSE Department nominated Nico as a result of his genuine interest in the field of IC design, and his winning project, which is summarized below.

Congratulations again to Nico on this achievement!


Project Summary:

IC Design & Testing is a pilot program created by Professors Mona M. Hella, and Russell P. Kraft in partnership with The EFabless Corporation and New York Creates.  The goal of this program is to allow students of any level of expertise the ability to go through the IC design process from start to finish using open-source tools provided by EFabless’ ChipIgnite program.  This program is part of RPI’s response to the new CHIPS act passed in July 2022.  Last semester a team of 5 students at different levels in their education were brought together to submit a design to EFabless’ November tape out in Skywater 130nm technology.  The team consists of four undergraduates, Dan Fiumara (CSE, 2024), Gavin Divincent (EE, 2024), Abdul Muizz (ECSE, 2024), Hayden Fuller (ECSE, 2025), and one Co-Term Masters student, Nico Altomare (EE, 2023).  With limited time and experience, the team decided to create a custom digital/analog watch unofficially titled RPIce.  The team worked closely with Jeff DiCorpo, SVP/General Manager at EFabless to write Verilog code and test benches to pass into EFabless’ Open Lane compiler (RTL to GDS) for submission to their November tape out.  Thanks to funding from NY Creates, the team expects to receive back the fabbed IC’s sometime late February for testing and implementation. 

Watch Face Concept, Hours (Red), Minutes (Green), Blue (Seconds)

Block Diagram of Watch Circuit


Winner Biography:

Nico Altomare is a Co-Term Masters student in his final semester studying Electrical Engineering with focuses in Microelectronics and Control Systems.  Nico became involved with the IC Design & Testing pilot program through the Embedded Hardware Club for which he is Treasurer and by the recommendation of Prof. Mona M. Hella, who was the Chief Engineer of his Capstone project, The Juggling Robot.  Nico and his partner Aaron Reers recently received second place honors in the Analog IC Design Contest hosted by Prof. Hella in partnership with Analog Devices Doug Mercer, and Siddharth Devaranjan.  Outside of academics, Nico is an avid rock climber and backyard bladesmith.  For his pandemic relief, he picked up the hobby of blade smithing and built a steel forge in his backyard.  He learned how to forge custom kitchen and pocketknives.  As the recipient of the Analog Devices Outstanding Student Design Award, he will have the honor of attending the upcoming International Solid-State Circuits Conference.