Emanuel Azcona

  • Doctoral Student

Emanuel Azcona

I always knew I wanted to pursue engineering, but it was not until my exposure to digital electronics and computer science that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I entered Tandon as an Electrical Engineering (EE) major in 2012. I was accepted into Tandon's Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and awarded the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) Bechtel Engineering Scholarship. I would not have been able to afford an education without the support of these programs.

While majoring in EE, I also pursued two minors: Integrated Digital Media (IDM) and Computer Science. I even enrolled in graduate courses in electrical engineering starting in my junior year.

As a student at Tandon, I had both industry and research internships. Through the school’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), I became an intern with John Deere. The following year, I participated in Tandon's Undergraduate Summer Research Program and was advised by HEOP alum and math instructor, Dr. Medina. That experience jump-started my appreciation for academic freedom and research. The following summer, I researched signal processing with Prof. Selesnick, and I advised two other students on sound synthesis.  As a senior, I took a course in machine learning with Prof. Rangan. As a result of this course, I did a senior thesis in machine learning. This research trajectory led me to my current position.

Currently, I am a first-year Ph.D. student at Northwestern University and a research assistant for Prof. Katsaggelos in his Image & Video Processing Lab (iVPL). Under his advisement, I am working on deep learning applications for music and medical imaging. I also assist senior Ph.D. students on super-resolution, stroke-lesion segmentation, and visualization of deep learning networks. The research in the lab builds on what I learned at NYU Tandon.

My advice for students is to not limit yourself to the boundaries of required coursework. Pursue your interests inside and outside your major. Step outside your comfort zone. Pursue internships and research. These experiences are extremely beneficial, even if it leads you to change your mind about your goals. Also: find a work-life balance. You are more than a set of skills and a resume.