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Electrical and Computer Engineering Success Stories

About me:
Julia Armstrong
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2014)
Harris Communication Systems, Rochester, NY

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Project Lead, Quality Engineer:
After working as an Embedded Developer and FPGA Designer, I shifted into our Improvement Office as part of Harris Business Excellence. Using my background in engineering, I interface with various R&D engineering teams from software to systems as a project lead, managing a portfolio of initiatives that improve process, communication, efficiency and quality. Additionally, I have a responsibility to our ERP database systems and work with corporate on analytics projects.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
My role, while built on a foundation of ECE and CSE design principles and workflow, is now to understand the engineers’ challenges and help make improvements on the way they work. I no longer use my coding skills, but rely mostly on clear communication, process mapping, and every project management knowledge area. I wouldn’t be able to succeed in this role without my engineering background.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering?
If you are an ECE major, get as much hands-on experience as possible. Take the time to really understand the labs and even go beyond. Join a tech club. Sign up for the optional labs. Don’t rely on lab partners – also do it yourself. Dig in! I put too much focus on my lecture courses and the theory, while great, is barely a part of our jobs as design engineers.


About me:
David Finn
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2015)
Minor in Business
Amazon, Seattle, WA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Software Development Engineer:
I'm on a backend system with AmazonFresh and PrimeNow (and a few other new teams). We run a service that keeps track of all inventory and customer order information, and then uses it to determine availability of items. As an SDE, I work to add new features that can be used by all of our customers (such as new API's or new tools). I'm also directly responsible for my system, so I help work to improve it every week, and if something happens to it, it's on me and my teammates to fix it as fast as possible.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The best skill in my role so far has been a willingness and ability to learn. In school, we learn a lot about computer science concepts such as data structures and algorithms. You definitely need to know these as they are the base of developing jobs, but most jobs require you to build/maintain whole complex systems. Different teams often use different technologies as well. It becomes very beneficial to have practical knowledge on all aspects of a computer system. I came in having no experience with a lot of the things my team uses. What I've noticed with myself and other entry level new hires is that your ability to learn your systems quickly and start adding value is what will set you apart the most in your first year of work.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering?
Picking majors is so hard because you really don't know what job you will want when you graduate. You know your general interests, and they will evolve over time as you learn more, but you can't really predict where they will be in 4/5 years. You can, however, put yourself in the best position to make the best decision for yourself. I would take time to go through what kinds of jobs Electrical and Computer Engineers can get, as well as the jobs other majors get. If the jobs seem like ones that you're interested in and that fit your skills and personality, then it could be right. If you still don't know, take a year to be "engineering undecided." Spend your freshman year exploring all engineering tracks. That's what I did and it convinced me that ECE would be right for me. 

As a pitch specifically for ECE, you can get jobs in a large array of computer fields with an ECE degree. You can really spin your studies in your last two years to better fit the different jobs.


About Me:
Sally Cleary Griffiths
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (1979)
Battelle, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Manager, Production Services, Corporate InformationTechnology:
I manage a tier 2-3 team that supports business applications at Battelle. We/I trouble-shoot user problems, analyze data, manage our collaboration environment, advise staff on various topics, conduct user group meetings, develop and teach classes, and work on projects. I am the Process Owner of two areas of our service management tool (Knowledge and Service Request Catalog).

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
There are several skills/abilities that are required including: troubleshooting, patience, database skills, writing, public speaking, coaching, coordinating, and speaking to people at the appropriate technical level. It's important to be able to apply company knowledge to resolve specific problems or make processes more efficient all while embracing change.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering?
Find something you love to do and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, even if you think they are dumb questions. They aren’t. Clarify things people tell you or ask you to do, because making assumptions can often lead you down the wrong path and waste time. Make sure you learn how to write and speak well.


About Me:
George McWilliams
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2004)
M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2006)
Robotic Research, LLC , Gaithersburg, MD 

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Senior Engineer:
I lead some of our major engineering programs related to unmanned vehicles and GPS-denied localization.  My current effort is leading a design team for a hybrid air/ground robot.  I manage a team of about 5-10 engineers, ensure the program is running within budget, set up demonstrations for customers, and in my spare time I get to develop embedded software for our robots.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Multi-tasking was not one of my strengths several years ago, but it's almost a requirement for a working at a diverse, fast-paced small business.  Being organized and being capable of clearly communicating ideas and designs to co-workers and customers is also very important.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering?
First, make sure you love what you're doing.  Even if you're a work-to-live type of person, you shouldn't be wasting 40+ hours per week doing something that you don't love.  Second, make sure you understand the fundamentals of your field.  I can't count the number of times I wished I had paid more attention during a certain linear algebra class or signal processing class.  Knowing the fundamentals can make an engineer so much more productive at his/her job.


About me:
Hussain Frosh
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2004)
Career Fair Plus, Orlando, FL

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a co-founder of a mobile app startup: 

Everything from leading product strategy to taking out the trash.  As a founder of a startup, you need to be able and willing to do it all.  My primary focus is on software and systems architecture across both mobile and web platforms as well as managing the software development process.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role: 
Logical and analytical thinker.  Problem solver. Curiosity and ability to design solutions.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering? 

With the prevalence of mobile technology and the rise of the Internet of Things, a degree in ECE or CSE will equip you with the skills you need to take on the challenges of the coming decade and give you an opportunity to positively impact the lives of thousands if not millions of users.


About me:
Luke Zamarripa
B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2015)
Multatech Architects and Engineers, Fort Worth, TX

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Electrical Engineer in Training (E.I.T.):
As an EIT (Engineer in Training), I help design low to medium voltage distribution systems for commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. I use both 2D and 3D CAD software to create construction documents for contractors to use during construction. I work on a team comprised of Architects, Mechanical Engineers, Civil Engineers, and Structural Engineers to complete projects.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
To be successful in my role, you need to be able to work on a team, communicate effectively, and manage your time efficiently. While it is important to be knowledgeable from a technical aspect,  it is more important to be able to complete projects on time as quickly and accurately as possible. To accomplish this goal, a project team needs to be able to work together to solve problems and coordinate multiple disciplines through active communication, participation, and forward thinking.  


What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering?
Electrical and Computer Engineering is a unique field in that there are hundreds of applications you can apply it to. As a student, I had three different internships in three different industries (Automotive, Aerospace, and Industrial). It is important to find your fit through job experience and research. It is also important to remember that you do not need to master every aspect of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Do not let one or two classes deter you from your end goal.