MEET THE STUDENTS
|Phil's Three Favorite Things about the ECE Department:
1) The ECE curriculum at Maryland includes great introductory courses where we learn critical skills while also exploring contemporary issues.
2) The ECE department has great advisors who are willing and able to handle scheduling questions and keep you on track with what you want to do with your degree.
3) Mentors in the ECE department are a great resource for exploring things that pique your interest because they can be a gateway to the rest of the department.
Advice to Incoming Students:
Get involved! This is something you will hear over and over again while you’re a new student, but it really is the best way to find out about yourself, others, and what you want to do with your education. Now is the time to try different things and also find out what you definitely don’t like. So whatever you find that engages you, go with it as far as you can go.
talks about ECE @ Maryland:
My name is Phil Sandborn, and I’m a sophomore Electrical Engineering student at the University of Maryland. I am originally from Austin, Texas, but my family moved to Maryland twelve years ago, and I’ve been a proud Terp fan since. My parents are both engineers, as well as my grandfather, so you could say that engineering runs in my blood. All through middle and high school, I participated in local and regional science fairs, where I met tons of other students who were also involved in science, technology, engineering, and math. Engineering was definitely my first choice when I looked at possible majors, but I couldn’t have anticipated how great the department at Maryland was until I got here.
During high school, I was in pursuit of prizes and accolades at local and regional science fairs, but I attained much more valuable things than tangible awards. I did research on a small topic in electrical engineering, called embedded resistors. In my engineering research, I gained basic programming skills, valuable skills in engineering design, as well as a set of skills in presenting my engineering research. It was through my time investment of three years in this project that I became sure that engineering was for me.
Electrical engineering appealed to me specifically because of the vast impact I could have with the degree. Electrical engineering has applications in almost everything from surgical equipment to cell phones, so my skills could be applied anywhere I went after college. Electrical engineering can also range in size, from the smallest components of cell phones to the management of huge power grids the size of the East Coast. This versatility was a huge factor in attracting me to electrical engineering.
As a prospective student, I looked at several top-notch electrical engineering departments, including the University of Maryland’s EE department. I considered a lot of things about the different departments, but one thing stood out to me about Maryland. Since the department is part of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, a fantastic college within the University, I would be able to take advantage of countless opportunities while I was an undergraduate student. That has certainly been the case thus far: I’ve tried out all kinds of things from the Robotics@Maryland team, discussing research with professors, and even working with the Undergraduate Services office to find good Electrical engineering research opportunities.
I am still discovering great things about the ECE department at Maryland, things I never knew about until I took classes and met extraordinary faculty. Since I started studying electrical engineering at Maryland, I’ve became fascinated with circuit design and analysis, along with its applications in signal processing. The first courses each electrical engineering student takes cover these topics extensively, and even though I’ve only been here three semesters, I feel ready to tackle new and interesting problems.
I am also very involved in Maryland’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an organization that designs and implements engineering solutions for problems in underdeveloped communities around the world. I’ve been involved in a solar powered lighting project in Burkina Faso (Western Africa) as well as a unique local project dealing with storm water management in our own community. I am currently a Project Leader of a new local project, in which we hope to implement engineering designs right here on campus. My involvement in EWB has been nothing but eye-opening and insightful. I’ve learned to apply my skills as well as lead others on an engineering design project.
Students the ECE department are definitely an interesting set of people. Everyone is engaged in their work, but everyone also finds their own path and way of pursuing their goals. There are some students who pursue research opportunities as I have, but there are also students who become very involved in the electrical engineering societies on campus such as IEEE or Eta Kappa Nu. Despite these minor differences, everyone pulls together to learn and discover new things in their classes. No one is left behind in any of my classes, and professors and students work in a collaborative environment to earn their degrees and even create new knowledge.
In addition to my engineering education, I’ve pursued research opportunities in the summer and during the semester. I am currently an intern at the Army Research Lab, studying, engineering and testing electric field sensors. This is a great opportunity for me to learn about the real applications of electrostatics, even though I have not taken the related course, Electricity and Magnetism. My internship also gives me the opportunity to apply and develop the engineering skills I learn everyday at Maryland.
When I’m not studying for engineering, I’ve enjoyed taking Honors seminars in topics ranging from Shakespeare to musical theater. I even attended an Honors seminar abroad, in which I studied French art, music, and architecture in Paris. I also enjoy taking quick trips to Washington, DC with friends, exploring everything from the premier museums of the Smithsonian to the great ethnic restaurants. And, of course, I take pride at the Terps sports events, wearing red and cheering on our teams.
After I finish my degree at the University of Maryland, I hope to pursue a career in electrostatic modeling or signal analysis. At this point in my education, it would be very difficult for me to decide which of these topics appeals to me more, but I know the ECE department at Maryland will help me find out which one is for me. The engaging classes have prompted me to investigate areas of electrical engineering in great depth, and I’m sure that I will have another topic of interest by the end of next semester. The many research opportunities within the department will also give me the chance to delve into topics of interest, so that I can find out what kind of engineering problems I truly love to solve.
Probably the sole, most important thing that comes out of being a student in the UMD ECE Department is the “family," the amazing people you will find here. From advisors to professors and from mentors to other students, you won’t find a better, more collaborative set of people in an engineering department. The large size of the department makes the connections between people all the more important, and that creates a thriving department here at Maryland. I’m glad to call everyone in the department a part of my ECE family.
All my experiences at Maryland, especially those with the electrical engineering department, have made me a more aware engineer. In an environment that fosters creativity in engineering with its diversity of research areas and many possible curriculum paths, I’ve found myself taking a look at the so-called “big picture” in engineering. In just the few semesters that I’ve been a student, the faculty, advisors and mentors I’ve interacted with have shown me the importance of versatility and creativity in engineering. I already feel well prepared to make a difference in my world and the world of others.
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