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Dear reader, may I ask you, what do you know about Kazakhstan? Do you know that Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country on earth? I It is nearly four times the size of Texas. Do you know that it is between China and the European part of Russia? Kazakhs proudly call themselves the “Heart of Eurasia.” The Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative is going straight through Kazakhstan, as this is the shortest road to European markets. Kazakhstan is also very rich in all kinds of minerals, coal, oil and hydroelectric plants. In less than 20 years Kazakhs have built a new capital Astana, with very impressive buildings, made by the leading architectonic bureaus on the planet. In 2017 Astana hosted an EXPO exhibition dedicated to renewable energies.
In 2019 Astana was renamed to Nursultan in order to honor President Nazarbayev, who recently stepped down after converting the country from a poor post-sowjetic republic into an emerging country, which is gaining political weight in the international organizations, affairs and disputes.
Central Asia is not the first region of the world that comes to mind when one is asked about microelectronics research and development, but there are initiatives starting to emerge. Naturally, education plays the most important role in developing professionals to work in complex environments such as the state-of-art microelectronics industry. In 2010, as a result of an initiative by President Nazarbayev, the international Nazarbayev University was founded in Astana. Unlike other universities in the country, the teaching language is English and the professors and administration are international expats, so the university is following the most modern standards in research and education.
Cadence Academic Network is collaborating with the Brain-inspired Microelectronics Systems Group at Nazarbayev University, which is headed by Professor Alex James. His main research interest is on memristors, he is using Cadence technology for simulation and implementation of memristor based circuits. But how can one ensure the quality of education in such a complex environment? By becoming a Certified Lab through the Cadence Academic Network. Instructors who teach in the lab complete a certification process, which then certifies then entire lab. The certification must be renewed every year.
Though the university is very young and everything was started from scratch, Professor Alex James and his students have achieved notable results! Their publication list is very impressive: 6 papers have been accepted by the ISCAS 2019 conference and Olga Krestinskaya, who is a PhD student on Professor James’s team, has been selected to receive the prestigious international 2019 IEEE Circuits and Systems Pre-Doctoral Award. It wasn’t that long ago that Prof. James wanted to submit his first paper to an IEEE conference and wasn’t able to select Kazakhstan as his country, so he had to select Russia in order to submit his paper. Now, there is an IEEE Kazakhstan subsection and an IEEE student branch.
We are proud to announce that Bioinspired Microelectronics Systems Group at Nazarbayev University has successfully accomplished the certification process and is certified in multiple areas: IC Package Design; Customer Design Virtuoso Technology Back-End; Customer Design Virtuoso Technology Front-End; and Digital Design and Signoff. Congratulations to Professor Alex James and his team!