Anthony Hylick doesn't want much out of life, only to help develop what could be the biggest revolution in computing since the Internet.
Now, he'll have his chance. As Georgia Tech's latest recipient of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, he'll begin pursuing his doctorate at the University of Cambridge this fall in the Sentient Computing research group.
A computer engineering major from Warner Robbins, Ga., Hylick said he wants to make computers easier to use for people who aren't computer experts. He doesn't mean just a little easier. He's thinking big Dennis Hayes kind of big. Much like that Tech alumnus did with the computer modem in the late 1970s, Hylick wants to revolutionize the way computers communicate with each other and with users.
Sentient computers could be that revolution. Equipped with sensors that allow the computers to see and hear, they can communicate with each other through ultrasonic waves. They have the potential to fix themselves when things go awry and respond to changes in the environment, reducing the amount of tasks computer users have to do.
"I would like to develop a new type of hardware that totally changes the electronic field and will go on to benefit users that are not computer experts," Hylick told the Gates Cambridge committee.
Hylick said his research experience as an undergraduate at Tech has only increased his interest in changing the world. This past summer he worked with electrical and computer engineering Professor Ian Ferguson programming light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that can simulate sunlight. An LED uses less power than incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs and can adjust themselves to respond to changing lighting conditions.
Currently Hylick is the president and regional vice president for his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, where he teaches young students through its mentoring programs.
Hylick works as a tech support specialist for the local service company I.T. Knowledge. Prior to that he participated in Tech's cooperative education program doing tech support for local schools at Virtucom.