BS electrical and computer engineering '09
(MS electrical and computer engineering University of Mass. Lowell '12; pursuing PhD electrical and computer engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.)
Occupation: PhD student
Community activities: salsa, rock climbing
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I thought about going into math or CS, but I got a bunch of emails that if you don't declare engineering now, it's really hard to switch later, so I basically got scared into electrical and computer engineering. I didn't really like it until my sophomore year when I started doing research for a professor and realized that all the labs and classes were actually teaching us something useful.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
One of my best mentors was the grad student I did research for. He taught me more about research, being a student, and getting the most out of university than anyone else I can think of. We're still in touch, I visited him in California earlier this summer, and I still regularly email or call him for advice.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I took a job in a rotational program where the company would pay for my MS. It sounded like a really interesting opportunity, and I had never been to that state before, so I figured it would be very horizon broadening. Working full time and finishing a master's in three years eats up your life, but the people who go through it with you become very special to you.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
After working for several years and doing my masters on the side, I decided to go full time at UIUC for my PhD. I think the time working in industry was extremely valuable and has helped me decide what I want in my future work environment and goals, and that I did in fact want to get my PhD.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
The most useful thing I learned was that working with the right people, we could solve anything. I also learned that some problems aren't worth the time and resources it takes to get them perfect and finding a balance between those two is still tricky.
How are you still connected with the University?
I feel less connected than I'd like. The students I've mentored and was friends with in lower classes have all graduated. We're still in touch fairly regularly, but I don't get drawn back to campus or the students that much anymore. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute through mentoring or outreach again in the future.