News Release

UCSD Celebrates ECE Day 2017


April 12th marked the third annual ECE Day at the University of California San Diego. The event was organized by UC San Diego’s Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) and IEEE chapters, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Undergraduate Student Council. They provided entertainment, local cuisine, a bevy of panelists from industry, and keynote speaker, Dr. Gilbert Strang. The day was chock full of opportunity to network, to create, to focus on depth sequences and to ponder career choices.

The morning panel entitled “Startups vs. Corporations” was meant to guide the audience on the pros and cons of working for a startup versus working for a corporation. With panelists from MaXentric, Linaro, Northrop Grumman, Kneron, and Qualcomm, there was a lot of debate on which to choose.

The takeaway from the discussion was focused on risk versus security. Riskiness seems to go hand in hand with working for a start-up, so do long nights. However, the upside to that is the investment of time which equates to percent ownership and the accomplishment of a finished product.  The start-up employee may not see as much pay as the corporate employee up front but they typically have more passion about the project.

Working for a corporation, however, can feel like being a part of a small nation. “Northrop Grumman has over 65,000 employees a revenue of $2.2 billion, it’s a big company,” says Chris Warren, Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman. The corporation has the resources to build things on a scale immeasurable to anything a start-up can produce. There is no significant risk of losing benefits, resources, contracts, or worse, employment and there is a certain pride that is associated with working for a company that is well known and well liked.

As Robert Wolff, UC San Diego alumni and employee at Linaro stated, “When choosing your path, you should consider two things, are you happy and are you learning.”

The electrical and computer engineering alumni panel was made up of employees from Hughes, Illumina, Cisco, and Peregrine Semiconductor. When asked which classes they wish they took while at UC San Diego, most talked about taking more programming classes and wished that there was less of a gap in practical applications, something that the new ECE hands-on curriculum seems to fill.

The students of the ECE 5, ECE 16, ECE 115, ECE 140 A-B and ECE 196 (hands-on curriculum courses) were excited to share their experiences. From binary clock making to autonomous vehicle software design, they had some intriguing showcases to share. Accompanying the demonstrations in Jacobs Hall lobby was a maze of poster presentations to help focus students on which depth sequence to choose.

Professor Gilbert Strang, MIT

Rhodes Scholar, MIT alumnus, and professor, Gilbert Strang, gave a keynote talk that covered his path from math to engineering. “I feel like I am a mathematician who followed a problem into engineering and as a result met a whole lot of engineers, now I teach the courses most directly for engineering, and I love it,” says Strang. 

He talked about the problems in math that led to two of his books: An Analysis of the Finite Element Method and Wavelets and Filter Banks (co-authored by Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair, Truong Nguyen). In reference to finite elements, Strang said "If I have a bunch of functions and their shifts....their translations, what accuracy do I get? It is the question of the order of accuracy. What is it about the functions that you start with that decide the quality of the approximation?" According to Strang, the wavelet problem was not much different. "With wavelets, you are working with filters, and it's the coefficients that have to decide. Out of the scaling functions and wavelets, how well could they approximate the function you are working with."  

An avid teacher, he was one of the first professor’s to publish a course on the MIT OpenCourseware, MIT’s MOOC (massive open online courses) platform. Open thinking has played a big role in his professional career, he is very supportive of making courses available to people around the world. Strang presented quite a riveting talk and was happy to stay to socialize with the attendees. 

ECE Day was intended to illuminate the course path, the graduate studies path and the career path of each electrical and computer engineering student. Attendees were met with a focused day of talks, and demonstrations, while mingling with industry members and socializing with colleagues.

Media Contacts

Shannon Prior
Electrical and Computer Engineering