UCSB's EE program is one of the best in the world. Also, I received a scholarship, so the choice was obvious.
I learned about it when I was researching for colleges online during high school.
I have always been captivated by technology. While I initially considered Computer Engineering due to my passion for PCs, I ultimately decided to pursue Electrical Engineering after taking AP Physics in high school because the specifics of circuit design and the science behind it intrigued me.
Electrical and Computer Engineering degrees open many doors in research and industry with all of its subdivisions - such as analog circuits, digital design, signal processing, device physics, robotics, power distribution systems, and computer networks. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities in non-technical jobs as project managers for a variety of companies.
UCSB's EE department has a diverse group of professors that cover many disciplines. Such diversity allows students to find and pursue their specialty.
The most surprising aspect of EE is how deep even the smallest subset of the subject can be and that engineers can spend entire careers trying to understand such minutiae.
Probably the majority of my fellow electrical engineers would agree that Circuits & Electronics II (ECE 137B) is the most challenging class in the curriculum (at least within the first three years). The toughest aspect is definitely the lab, where students must create a circuit with minimal instructions. Through hard work and perseverance, however, one can accomplish this difficult task and gain considerable practical knowledge along the way. Thankfully, Professor Theogarajan is very supportive and cares about the success of every one of the students in his class.
I am looking forward to Integrated Circuit Design & Fabrication (ECE 124B & 124C) because I will be able to get hands-on experience with designing and fabricating integrated circuits in a clean room.
I want to specialize in nanotechnology, since it is a growing field with a lot of promise for solving problems in medicine, computation, and energy. Moreover, the physics of electrical engineering has always interested me.
By applying online, I acquired an internship at Chevron as a "Facilities Engineer" in Bakersfield, where I worked on both automation and power systems. While leading several teams on projects each worth over $100,000, I learned about power distribution, steam cogeneration plants, and more.
I eventually want to go into industry, but I plan on attending graduate school first to study nanotechnology.
I was really drawn to the school after I attended the Chancellor's Reception at LAX. UCSB did a great job of promoting undergraduate research, and I was excited at the opportunity to participate in the Summer Institute of Mathematics and Science (SIMS) Program. Through the program I was able to do research the summer before my freshman year.
One of my High School counselors mentioned it when we were looking into colleges.
I wanted to be an engineer because I enjoyed math and physics in high school, and I wanted a career that would allow me to apply both of these subjects. The decision to study electrical engineering was somewhat arbitrary.
UCSB has two or three career fairs every year and there are always companies looking to hire electrical engineers. Companies including: Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, SanDisk, Microsoft, and some local companies to name a few. Some students make themselves more marketable by pursuing advanced degrees (Masters and PhDs). There are also opportunities in other fields such as law, medicine, or business.
How abstract and powerful mathematics can be. Mathematical concepts such as Fourier Transforms and Taylor Expansions are extremely important to engineers.
Circuits and Electronics I (ECE 137A). Prior to this course we had been given instructions on how to build all of our circuits. In this course we were responsible for the design and implementation of a circuit that simulated a bouncing ball. It was rewarding to go from the theory to a working circuit. The class material was also difficult and the professor expected a lot from us. He wanted us to know everything about the circuit from the device physics level to the signals and systems level with concepts like feedback. He tried to tie together all the concepts we had learned in previous classes. It was challenging, so I made sure to do assignments early and go to office hours. I just stayed positive and asked for help when I needed it. Everyone struggled.
ECE 194D. I think it will be really fun to work with robots. I heard last year students designed a robot to play beer pong.
Controls because the field is very heavy in mathematics. As I have gone through my undergraduate degree at UCSB, my appreciation for mathematics has increased. Controls would allow me to apply my joy for mathematics to practical engineering problems.
Last summer I did an internship here at UCSB through the Center of Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM). I characterized the performance of InGaN based solar cells versus solar flux concentration. I heard about the opportunity from the director of the internship, and I applied for it.
I want to obtain a Ph.D. There is a lot more for me to learn before I start working, and I am also interested in doing cutting edge research. I have applied to Berkeley, Michigan, UC San Diego, Georgia Tech, University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, and MIT. After grad school, I would like to work in industry for some time because it will make me a more well-rounded engineer.
I wanted to go to a research institution and I really liked the UCSB campus when I first went to visit. After looking into the Computer Engineering program, I was determined to go to UCSB. The program offered classes that I wanted to take and was a very friendly environment.
My life has always revolved around computers. I have always wondered how they work and how they are able to do so many things. Every computer has a hardware and software component and I am focusing on computer engineering since it is a mixture of the two.
ECE 181C, Robotics Control. I took this class during the summer and spent most of my time playing with LEGOs and building autonomous robots out of them. It was challenging because this class was interdisciplinary, we had to design the mechanical, electrical, and software components and make them all work together.
In computer engineering, we get to learn the basics of both CS and EE, and can bridge these two fields together. Plus, if we like one field more than the other, we can choose to focus in that field.
I want to specialize in artificial intelligence and robotics. I like building something then watching it move around and do things.
Yes, this past summer I interned at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) at UC Riverside. I worked closely with transportation engineers on traffic simulations and emissions modeling. My project involved implementing specialized traffic light controllers by writing DLL files for the traffic simulation software. The goal was to improve traffic flow while reducing vehicle emissions. This was a great experience for me and I learned a lot about how people travel and the effect of vehicle emissions on the environment.
How the transistor is has shaped our modern lives since it is used in nearly every electronic device.
It's good, I like to go out with friends and have fun, play games, or just relax.
I live in the dorms. They're really nice and are on-campus.
I hope to go into industry to gain some experience and work in the robotics field designing algorithms. After a few years, I'd like to go to graduate school to get an advanced degree in computer science with my final goal being to return to industry.
I knew that I loved the feel of the school and the campus at UCSB. When I learned that the engineering program was good I was thrilled because I knew I wanted to come here. It is a smaller program at a large school, which meant I would have the opportunity to explore my options but have smaller class sizes at the same time.
I was interested in math and science coming out of high school, which made me want to pursue a major in those fields. Engineering seemed to be the most practical major that could teach me the relevant applications of what I would learn. I decided on electrical because I felt that it could be applied to almost anything, making it the most versatile choice.
At the moment I am deciding between two paths. The first is using the background I am developing in signals and systems to go into the field of communication technology or image processing. This could be anything from cell phone technology to medical imaging technology. The other option I am weighing is delving into biological nano-machines, which would also be useful in the medical field for a range of things including targeted drug administration.
In general the complexity of the ideas in engineering are astounding. Each quarter we delve a little deeper into a subject and I've realized that there is an infinite amount of information to learn.
The most challenging course so far has been 137A-B. Professor Theogarajan is brilliant and demanding in the sense that he wants us to actually understand the concepts behind what we are doing fully, not just go through the motions. This is great because he really cares about our learning and what we are getting out of the class. It was intimidating but in the end I am glad I went through his course because now I go about learning differently. It is more self-motivated.
I would like to work with nanotechnology in biological systems because I am interested in getting into the medical field. This means I need to now get on learning the biochemistry to be able to apply the engineering concepts I've learned so far to my desired field.
I spent this past summer doing undergraduate research at UC Berkeley. It was a great experience to see what Ph.D. students go through while pursuing their research. My particular project was to help my mentor, Gabriel Lavella, with developing the next stage of his work on the way to creating a concentration based drug delivery system. Since I am an electrical engineer, much of his work with chemomechanical nanomachines was new to me, but it was a great learning experience. It was a short 8 weeks that helped me decide how much research interests me.
The class sizes get increasingly smaller as you progress in the major, so you end up knowing your classmates better than other majors. EE can hinder other social interactions because of the time demands of the major including labs and homework. You have to balance your time wisely to maintain an active social life.
At the moment I am in a nice apartment on the edge of Isla Vista living with two other girls. It is calmer than my previous situations, which is nice for getting work done. It's also more manageable to keep clean, making it a pleasant atmosphere.
I am now looking at graduate programs in Bioengineering. I would like to first go for a Masters to see what I need to know to pursue a career in medical technology. This is my main goal, so I want to be as qualified as possibly. I will only go on to a Ph.D. if I feel extremely passionate about the research opportunities I see in my field of study. For now I am really just looking forward to graduating, going to Italy for the summer and possibly taking a year between now and graduate school.
UCSB has one of the best electrical engineering programs in the country. U.S. News & World Report has us ranked 17th in the nation this year but I don't think this statistic does us justice. With accomplished faculty and industry-quality laboratories, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better education elsewhere.
As far as engineering programs go, EE makes the most use of high-end equipment and labs. While all engineering requires hands-on experience, EE is the hardest to learn from a textbook. It makes sense to capitalize on UCSB's resources and get training that you cannot get anywhere else.
After finishing grad school, I plan on working in industry for at least a few years. Even while the economy is hurting, there is no shortage of electrical engineering jobs. My long-term plan is to build up enough capital to create a start-up company designing effects and amplifiers for instruments.
I learned that I am actually a good student. I did not know this about myself.
Anything taught by Professor Theogarajan. I learned how to cope when given impossible goals and deadlines.
Analog communication design because it combines both theory and practice.
Yes, at a local company called Toyon Research Corporation. I worked on developing technology, chiefly involving GPS. I really learned a lot about how the real world of engineering works and I strongly recommend any students to get one. Also, engineering internships pay very well.
Everybody has a good time at UCSB. Isla Vista is very student-oriented, so there is always fun to be had at events or with friends. Engineering means the occasional late-night lab work but the major isn't too much more demanding than any other.
I rent a house with two other engineers and a history major in Isla Vista. I think it’s important to live with other students because it keeps you from getting too hung up on all your own studies.
I have been accepted to graduate school here at UCSB. After grad school, I will hopefully go into industry with communication circuits. UCSB has prepared me a lot for this, with all the classes, research, and career fairs that take place here.
My undergrad years as a Computer Engineering Program student at UCSB were awesome! There was a good mix of work and social life (though maybe not as much as other majors). The last year of undergrad studies was the best since the classes were so interesting. The Computer Engineering Senior Capstone Project (189A/B) was an experience that I will never forget... The process of our group taking an idea from scratch to a finished product was a lot of fun.
After receiving my undergraduate degree from UCSB, I decided to continue my education and get a M.S. degree. I chose to stay at UCSB over other schools because of the relationships I made with some of the UCSB professors. I wanted to continue to work with them and their research aligned with what I wanted to pursue. It was not my original intention to continue onto my Ph.D. but I enjoyed research so much that I decided to continue.
Analog components in system on chip designs (SoC) have proven to be very difficult to test within the digital design verification flow. These components are simulated and verified using SPICE, which can be time consuming for complex components. We propose a methodology for building System Verilog behavioral models for analog and mixed signal circuits directly from the circuit netlist. We show that it is possible to build models of complex non-linear circuits that can be used within a digital simulation environment for system level verification. These models capture the behaviors for different input stimuli and varying parameters, allowing system-level simulation of circuits composed of digital and analog blocks. In this methodology, a circuit description is converted into a directed acyclic graph that captures relationships among the sub-circuits of the netlist. Each node within the graph is modeled using ν-SVR (Support Vector Regression) and written as a System Verilog module. These modules can be used for system level simulation with and without injected errors as well as for sensitivity analysis.
My research ended up changing three times since I started. Originally I worked in fault diagnosis of large scale digital designs, then moved to post silicon test program validation using pre-silicon design models, and finally changed to analog behavioral modeling using machine learning algorithms. I ended up in my present research area through numerous talks with industry contacts about how my expertise can be applied to applications that could directly benefit them.
I stayed at UCSB to continue my education because of the professors and the environment. I have built great relationships that I wanted to continue to develop, plus you can't beat the view of the beach and the mountains.
Solving relevant problems facing the industry today. Being able to take the research that is done at school and implement it within a company's flow is very rewarding.
Our project collaborates with an industry mentor at Intel who provides industry related feedback to proposed projects and ideas. We also collaborate with UCSB ECE Professor Luke Theogarajan's group who provide us with analog netlists and we perform our experiments on them.
Working in a group environment makes it easier to share ideas and solutions which ends up taking some of the stress out of the work. It has been a real pleasure working with my advisors especially since they provide me with excellent direction and advice while giving me the freedom to explore paths on my own.
I plan on exploring various aspects to behavioral modeling including design space exploration and scaling. I plan on entering industry but not necessarily in the same area as my research.
In two words — the professors.
My favorite undergraduate courses were 189A/B (know as the Senior Capstone project) and Digital Design with VHDL and Synthesis (ECE 156A) and Computer-Aided Design of VLSI Circuits (ECE 156B) which gave me the direction I wanted to take for my higher level education. As for graduate courses, VLSI Design Validation (ECE 255) taught by Professor Li-C Wang and Introduction to Design Automation (ECE 256) taught by Professor Margaret Marek-Sadowska because the content and the projects were interesting and both were related to my field of study.
The most memorable exam I have taken was the screening exam. I spent months studying for it which ended up paying off in the end. It was a tough and stressful test.
I was a TA for Fundamentals of Logic Design (ECE 15A); Sensor and Peripheral Interface Design (ECE 153B); Digital Design with VHDL and Synthesis (ECE 156A); and Senior Computer Systems"Capstone" Project (ECE 189B) where I taught sections, provided assistance in labs, and graded homework and reports. Aside from the grading, being able to help the undergrads get through their tough classes was very rewarding. Helping them fine-tune their Capstone projects and sharing my experiences and mistakes hopefully made the process a bit smoother.
It is not too much different than undergraduate student life. The main difference is that you are surrounded by more like- minded and goal oriented people. As far as balance goes, I've had to learn to become a good planner and not save things for the last minute.
I lived in various places in SB (Isla Vista also known as IV, Goleta, Downtown). Living in IV is great as an undergraduate and living downtown was a better fit once I became a graduate student.
I worked at Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon this past summer. I worked in the analog CAD department, which is closely related to my research. It was a great experience to learn how things are done in industry and if I am not close to graduating next summer I plan on going back.
Try to experience everything Santa Barbara and UCSB has to offer, you may never get the opportunity to live here again!
My research focuses on the channel modeling and signal processing for the millimeter wave (60 GHz) mesh network. The increasing demand for high-definition multimedia and high speed computer communications has led to the need for a new generation of wireless networks that support higher data rates. The 60 GHz band is considered to be a promising candidate for building such high speed, short range wireless networks for a number of reasons: it offers large swathes of unused bandwidth (57-64 GHz) and has a high spatial frequency reuse because of significant attenuation due to oxygen absorption. A fundamental understanding of the radio propagation channel of such wireless links becomes the critical requirement to design the network topology as well as the higher layer protocols.
I selected my area of research because I found it to be a very interesting and challenging topic. I also attended Professor Madhow’s class and I liked the way that he teaches students.
UCSB has a very strong ECE department, which can be seen from its U.S. News& World Report ranking. And also I knew that there are many job opportunities at California, which is also one of the reasons I selected UCSB.
My research can potentially increase the wireless transmission data rate in our daily life. For example, you might be able to transmit signal directly from your webcam or DVD to your HDTV wirelessly. The data rate of smart phones can also be possibly increased dramatically.
My research group offers strong collaborative support with lots of novel ideas arising from the discussions with my fellow group members. It is a very helpful environment that enables you to learn from people who have experienced similar research problems as you have experienced. It has also been great experience for me to work with my advisor, Madhow, who is knowledgeable and is willing to devote his time to help. He is a hard-working and nice person who has become a model for all of our group members. Our WCSL group has collaborations with other labs, such as ECE Professors Rodwell and Hespanha, and Belding (ECE / CS), as well as professors in other departments including Psychology and Computer Science.
It has been a delightful experience working with our group members as well as with my advisor. Our group members are smart and nice people, who are willing to discuss your research problems in detail.
My personal career goal is to join Industry after my graduation and I am interested in some big companies in communication field. In our lab, the previous group members either joined Industry or Academia. For example, some of them joined different communication companies, such as Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom and some other local communication companies, while other joined ECE department at different universities.
ECE department has excellent lab equipment, which provides graduate students opportunities to gain many useful skills. In addition, graduate level courses are well taught.
Digital Communications (ECE 243A/B) taught by Professor Madhow, in this class I learned the fundamental knowledge of communication system and techniques. I also liked Communication Electronics (ECE 218A/B) taught by Professor Rodwell since I gained hands-on experience with RF circuit design.
Screening exam: I recommend working in a study group because I found it to be extremely helpful for this oral exam. I felt confident to take the screening exam after taking some related course at UCSB. While the screening exam focuses on courses, the qualifying exam aims to present your thesis idea/proposal to your committee members. It is very helpful to have some suggestions from your committee members at the middle stage of your thesis research.
I was the TA for ECE146A and B. I was holding office hours as well as labs including both MATLAB software programming as well as hardware labs. Compared with TAs from other universities (heard from friends), I think that TAs provide substantial help for the students. Being a GSR, I spend most of my time on my research, and I also take some interesting courses at the same time.
I am a married student and I have a very young baby. I work hard on the weekdays and try my best to spend weekends with my family, since I don't want to miss any important moment of my baby's growth. I have to admit that I don’t spend enough time with my baby during the deadline time (conference deadline or exams) but I try to make it up after the deadline passes.
I live in UCSB Family Housing, which is a very nice community and has the cheapest rent compared to other available places to live near campus. The resident coordinators hold lots of activities including holiday events, sports activity, and parent happy hours, etc. I enjoy attending those activities since I can get to know my neighbors better. As a Chinese student, I also attend activities held by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), such as Chinese Festival Concert, weekend sport activity, etc. For the new students, CSSA provides lots of help including picking up new students, proving temporary lodge and etc. I also attend ISI Friday dinner regularly, where you can know American families and other international friends.
I will do a summer Internship at Broadcom, where I will work as a system engineer focusing on OFDM wireless communication techniques. In 2008 I worked at Mentor Graphics as a software engineering, focusing on the EDA software development and worked for Denali Software Company in 2009 focusing on the flash memory coding problem. These three companies are all located at Bay area. In 2010 and 2011, I spent my time on my research at UCSB.
Work hard and also play hard!
My research addresses the problem of performing vision-based tracking of a moving ground target with small, fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with gimbaled cameras. The gimbal mechanisms have a limited range of pan-tilt angles, thereby inducing blind spots. Therefore, one aspect of my research is devising a feedback control strategy for a single UAV to maintain visibility and close proximity to the ground target while at the same time being robust to the effects of unpredictable target motion, unmodeled system dynamics, and stochastic wind. The second aspect of my research considers the optimal coordination of two or more UAVs for the purpose of minimizing the measurement error of the ground target’s position. My solutions to these problems employ tools and techniques from game theory, optimal control, and stochastic optimal control.
I selected UCSB primarily based on the sincere, welcoming attitude of my advisor, my first year financial aid offer, and UCSB’s proximity to my hometown of Oxnard rather than any specialty research area. At the time I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to research, though my advisor carefully considered my general research interest of aerial robotics.
My interest in the research area of small UAVs began as an undergraduate at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where I was in the McNair Scholars program and had an advisor whose primary research interest was in the area of aerial robotics. With him I designed and helped build a power management system for an autonomous helicopter, and then I did research aimed at developing a health monitoring system for the same vehicle. These experiences sparked in me an interest in aerial robotics and unmanned / autonomous vehicles.
In the past, we had a stellar postdoctoral scholar in the lab who was very helpful and collaborated with most of the students in the lab, thereby facilitating good research, publications, and successful field tests. Also, since my lab often has visiting students from foreign countries, I was able to collaborate with a visiting student from Italy to conduct research, which ultimately led to a publication in a conference proceeding.
My research is part of a joint project between Toyon Research Corporation and UCSB, where Toyon is responsible for launching, monitoring, and landing the small UAVs in order for me to test the control algorithms I develop as part of my research. Hence, I often work with the engineers from Toyon who have proven to be most helpful for testing my latest control algorithms.
I have a great, personable advisor who is fairly hands-off, which allows me to freely explore different approaches to solving my applied research problem of motion planning for small UAVs. Furthermore, it is up to me to schedule meetings with my advisor as needed so that he can direct, approve, and review my research. My advisor is not only a great researcher, but an excellent teacher as well. Therefore, he is also able to effectively clarify certain concepts and theory that I may have trouble understanding. Moreover, my meetings with my advisor are infrequent, but they are always highly beneficial and insightful.
Although my lab-mates and I have the same advisor, we tend to work independently from one another on different research problems. Nevertheless, we often discuss our work and ideas with one another to connect with one another and receive constructive criticism. The lab also usually comes together to help critique a person’s presentation that will be given at a conference, workshop, or for their qualifying exam.
I plan on taking a job in industry where I can apply my knowledge of advanced control theory to solve applied research problems, preferably those related to robotics, aerospace, or automobiles.
My favorite course would have to be ECE 229 – Hybrid Dynamical Systems, which was taught by Professor Andrew R. Teel, a pioneer in this field. I was never more eager to take a class than this one because here we are taught cutting-edge control theory that provides flexible, effective analysis tools and robust design solutions for nonlinear / hybrid systems that are otherwise difficult to stabilize and analyze.
Screening exam: The screening exam has been my most difficult undertaking as a graduate student. I took the exam as a Control major and Signal Processing minor in the spring quarter of my second year. I began studying the summer after my first year, which entailed reading and practicing problems from relevant textbooks. I also took the undergraduate Digital Signal Processing class and audited the undergraduate Classical Feedback Control course in the fall quarter of my second year to help prepare me for the exam. I recall finding old homework and exams on the course websites for the classes previously taught on the relevant testing material, and I used such material to practice for the exam. Closer to the date of the exam, I started studying for the exam with a friend, and we even studied our entire spring break for this exam. This hard work paid off, as I passed the exam on the first attempt.
I began working as a GSR during the summer after my first year of grad school. My advisor had received a research grant related to my research interest of aerial robotics, and he accordingly placed me on this research project. The research is for a particular application of UAVs, which incoming students with specific research agendas might regard as being a hindrance to the work they would like to do. However, I came into grad school with only a general research interest, and so I have found it to be most beneficial for several reasons. Namely, my GSR position has allowed me to work on a research problem I enjoy, helped shape the specific topic of my thesis, and also funded my graduate school career
My first year as a graduate student consisted solely of coursework and tended to be somewhat imbalanced, as homework and studying took up most of my time. Nevertheless, I did occasionally make time for recreational and social activities. Now that my graduate career primarily consists of research, I have a somewhat less demanding work schedule that allows me to do most of my work during the week and spend more time doing the things I enjoy on the weekends. Of course, there are times when my workload ramps up and I find myself spending more hours in the lab. The general trend, at least for my major, is that one’s workload becomes somewhat less demanding after completing coursework and passing the screening exam.
Oftentimes I go out to lunch with friends from ECE, my lab, and church to places in Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara. I also head down to my hometown of Oxnard nearly every weekend to spend time with my family and friends there. Also on the weekends I enjoy helping out at church, especially serving and teaching in the children’s service. I also like to cycle and play tennis with a friend of mine from ECE, as these are especially good activities to do with the beautiful scenery and marvelous weather of Santa Barbara. I have always lived off campus in Goleta. My first four years I rented out a room from a married couple for a great price. There I lived close to the bike trail that I often took to campus, and I had a quiet, peaceful study environment with full house privileges and great housemates. I have since moved into a very similar living situation, where I still have great rent and live conveniently close to campus and the Calle Real Center. Overall I have become very fond of living in Santa Barbara and would really like to work in the area after graduating.
Although my plan is to head into industry, I always leave open the possibility of returning to academia after a career in industry to both teach and motivate mathematics and engineering. Hence, I co-mentored four talented students from Dos Pueblos High School as part of a robotics summer internship program in order to teach them general engineering and programming principles, and more specifically the power and necessity of feedback control. During this summer of engineering challenges, the students programmed several iRobot Create robots in Java to autonomously: drive to a certain position, drive on a circle, rendezvous, and cooperatively manipulate objects. During this summer, I was able to learn some of the joys and challenges of teaching while the students gained real-world engineering knowledge and experience.
I also took a week off at the beginning of July to spend time with friends and also with family members who were visiting from out of state. Overall, I had a great time visiting Cold Spring Tavern, watching 4th of July fireworks, and taking a trip to Magic Mountain.
UCSB is a great institution at which to pursue a Masters/ Ph.D. in electrical engineering because of its distinguished ECE faculty, great facilities, and beachside campus. Not only do you receive instruction and collaborate with faculty who are top researchers / contributors in their fields, you also live in the beautiful city of Santa Barbara, where there is plenty to do and see.
When I first applied I didn’t know exactly what research I wanted to do... in retrospect I don’t think anyone really does until after a few years working on their PhD. UCSB’s ECE department has lots of faculty working in electronic design automation in lots of different directions, so I knew I would find something that inspired me.
My work currently focuses on verification and validation coverage metrics for large-scale circuits. These functional test tasks can be somewhat challenging: it is often much easier to design a circuit than it is to show that you designed the right circuit. Coverage metrics are a way of measuring our thoroughness in testing and exposing aspects of the design that have not been given sufficient attention.
I’ve been writing software since I was a kid and doing it as a job since I was 13. When I entered college I tried to mix things up by pursuing electrical engineering instead of computer science. I guess that plan backfired; I still write software, although the things I’m writing rely just as much on my electrical engineering education.
As a programmer, design automation is great because it has a lot of scalability issues. I’ve always loved algorithms and optimization, and turning a week-long experiment into a day- or hour-long one with a couple clever tweaks is extremely gratifying. Every time I run an experiment to answer some question I have, it always leads to another question. It is a constant stream of puzzles, an endless journey. It keeps my mind occupied and always gives me something new and exciting to work on.
My group members are a great support network. They help shoot down foolish ideas, strengthen good ones, and are good friends as well. My advisor, Professor Tim Cheng, is great to work with. His experience is invaluable in guiding my research toward something useful and keeping me focused.
While the core of my work does not involve intense collaboration (e.g. daily interaction or shared source code), working with others is still a big part of it. In addition to weekly group meetings, my labmates and I will frequently bounce ideas off of each other, exchange papers for editing, and practice presentations. I also interact with industry a lot, which is pretty common in the CE program. First, there are grant reviews, where we present our latest research directly to the companies that sponsor us. I have also done two internships with Intel (totaling 10 months), which provided invaluable experience and perspective for my research. My supervisor from Intel is also on my thesis committee and a mentor on my grant, so he and I communicate regularly to make sure the work is proceeding in a meaningful direction. Finally, I meet with both industry and other universities at conferences. One benefit to being in California is the proximity of most top conferences, which tend to be held within driving distance. Even if I don’t have a paper, I will sometimes go for a workshop or to help as a volunteer. You meet many students from other universities at these events, people who will be your future colleagues.
Immediately after graduating I plan to take a job in industry. With any luck, I’ll find a position that lets me publish enough to remain academically relevant so that my future options are kept open. Eventually I would like to teach, even if only part-time as an adjunct professor.
The graduate courses are very in-depth they really show both the history of as well as the latest developments in their respective topics. Standards are high and it takes a lot of hard work to graduate, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Although I didn’t take it for credit, I sat in on and thoroughly enjoyed the graduate-level advanced computer architecture course. Professor Melliar-Smith’s lectures are always very engaging, and really make you think.
Most of the time I am a GSR, but I’ve done two TAs. The first was computer architecture, which consisted of discussion section, office hours, and grading. I’ll admit I’m not too fond of grading, which is why I opted for this upper-division class with fewer students. In discussion section and office hours you really get to know the students, it is great seeing them figuring things out. My second TA was computer design, and I ended up having many of the same students as before. This is a lab class where students build a simple microprocessor using various discrete logic components and an FPGA. I spent a ton of time in the lab showing them how to debug Verilog code and big, tangled breadboards. It was very demanding, but you end up feeling a personal responsibility to make sure that everyone gets everything they can out of the class.
I was pretty frightened about the screening exam, and joined a study group of around 8 people months in advance. This was the first time I had ever been in a study group, or ever really seriously studied, for that matter. When the day finally arrived I made my way through it with confidence and ease, but I can’t imagine how impossible it would have been if I hadn’t done all that studying. The qualifying exam was a much less intimidating matter, albeit arguably more important. By the time I was ready for it, I already had my research topic pretty well figured out and slides from conferences I was able to use in the presentation.
My quality of life depends a lot on whether there is a conference deadline looming. Most of the time, I work regular hours and still have weekends free for skiing, hiking, and cookouts at Goleta Beach. When a deadline approaches though, the intensity of work increases and I don't have much free time in my weekends or evenings. I still manage to cook dinner and get to the gym a couple times a week, but it can be pretty intense. Right after a deadline I usually take it easy for a week or so to recharge and catch up on chores... and then the cycle starts all over again.
I live in Family Student Housing with my wife, who is also a PhD student in the ECE department. We have a number of friends (also primarily ECE grad students) who live nearby that we hang out with on the weekends or go on trips with during breaks. Living in Santa Barbara is great: you are always so close to nature. There is always some sort of flower in bloom along my daily bike ride into the lab, and whenever I want to clear my head I can just walk down to the beach and listen to the ocean. The farmers' market runs year-round with some of the freshest and cheapest food you can find anywhere. Where else can you get 50 cent locally grown avocados? You're also never trapped in SB. Within a day's drive I can be in San Francisco, Tahoe, San Diego, Las Vegas, Sequoia, or, most often, at Mammoth Mountain.
I spent this last summer on internship at Intel in Austin, TX. It was a great experience, but I was glad to come back home to Santa Barbara.
UCSB is a top research institution located in paradise; I feel immensely fortunate to be here. Quality of life is at least as important as quality of education, and you don't have to pick just one or the other.
My work is focused on the epitaxial growth, fabrication and application of Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers. We are working on ways to increase modulation speed and control other aspects of the output to fit needs in high speed communication, imaging and ranging applications.
I felt that (and still do) photonics will only grow as an academic field and will be the building blocks that drive many future systems. I was also well taken care of during the recruitment weekend and the professors were enthusiastic about their research. I wanted to work on lasers and Dr. Coldren (my advisor) wrote the book on lasers, literally.
Epitaxial growth is a very involved process because of the many instruments needed to achieve ultra high vacuum. Since repairs and maintenance are generally performed by students, it takes a great deal of coordination to keep the machine in good working order. Communication is also key with knowledgeable staff members to avoid costly and potentially dangerous mistakes. Like growth, fabrication and testing are crafts that require skill and understanding. I have found that it is imperative to defer to and rely on students that have experience in these fields for help.
Like any work place, one needs to be respectful of other people. Your colleagues all have something to share and it would be wise to listen to their opinions. Working with an advisor can vary from person to person because it is a personal bond that is fostered over the years. But it is important to always communicate your feelings and keep perspective of your own personal goals.
After graduation I plan on applying my critical thinking skills in an international volunteering effort or apply for fellowships to learn about science and technology policy in Washington D.C. Eventually I would like to join an engineering design firm and go into the consulting or venture capital industry.
The stellar research infrastructure and world-class equipment ranging from growth, material characterization, fabrication and testing allows students and faculty to tackle very challenging and novel ideas.
227A semiconductor laser course is my favorite and not because it is taught by my advisor. I think the course is a good balance of the theoretical concepts that are taught in lecture and practical application that is laid out in the homework assignments. I still find myself reviewing the old homework when I hit certain problems in my research.
Screening exam: Get your hands on the Red review book. Myself and two other grad students (Shane Todd and Ridah Sabouni) put those together and it was a great help. You must study in a group (no more than 4-5) and get into the habit of solving problems in front of everyone on the chalkboard.
Qualifying exam: Start early by organizing your presentation and images. Also remember to talk to your advisor before (2-3 weeks) the exam date to just talk about the format and your ideas.
I have both TA'ed courses and had the opportunity design and teach my own engineering design course. I found that it was a wonderful experience and great way to learn more about what you thought you knew. These opportunities are also key to developing communication and organizational skills.
Having a significant other in my life has helped greatly with balancing what is important and helping me set priorities. I find that having deadlines, both long term and short term, really helps my productivity because it forces me to have a greater sense of time.
Living in SB is very expensive. However my partner and I were very lucky to have gotten into family housing where the rent is decent but the location is great. My social circle contains many friends from outside of the department which is a great way to help pull you out of your own research.
Everyone spends much of the summer attending to their respective projects (or traveling). For the past few summers I have mentored students from high school or community colleges to work in the lab. Although it does take up a lot of time, I really like the experience and the feeling of mentoring students interested in science and technology.
When I was a new, it was all too easy to spend a lot (too much) time in the lab. I think a lot of times new students feel that just being in the lab they are more productive or more dedicated than others. But graduate school is not a competition, if you treat it as such you won’t have a good time and others might not have such a good time around you either. I think it is also important to find friends out of the department. Other graduate students are learning just as much as you are during their time here and it will help make you a more well-rounded person to come to appreciate what others are learning.
Advanced InP-based photonic integrated circuits are reaching a critical stage in the technological development process. As demands for bandwidth and capacity rapidly increase, the need to densely integrate more and more components onto a single chip also increases.
My work focuses on the incorporating sub-wavelength metal gratings into optical waveguides and cavities to create nano-scale mirrors and lasers. In order to realize these devices, I am using a semiconductor epitaxial structure with a high gain active region, as well as, dielectrics and high conductivity metals like silver. Because metal losses are high, these devices must have high field concentrations and small cavities. This leads to significantly smaller components than their counterparts fabricated using only semiconductors. The ability to use semiconductors, dielectrics, and metals together in a single platform generates enormous design flexibility for future photonic integrated circuits.
I felt that it provided the unique combination of an abundance of resources and collaborative environment in the research area of photonic semiconductor devices. I could tell from my initial visit to UCSB how great the research possibilities were and I have been continually impressed by the expertise and resources available at UCSB.
Knowing that I am pushing the limits of novel device fabrication. Over the course of my research, I have become an expert at Electron Beam Lithography and have been able to make structures that were previously only theorized. It is exciting to know that I am working on a project that is in the very early stages of development and could potentially revolutionize photonic circuits as they exist today.
The research group environment is such a great support system. The people in my research group have become my best collaborators and good friends. It is a unique environment that allows you to explore and learn in your field with people that have recently experienced the same questions and problems. My research group has been an invaluable asset to me during grad school. Working with an advisor is also a really great experience, but it is a relationship designed to help you accomplish a lot in your research. As long as you appreciate an advisor that will push you to do your best, it is a rewarding experience.
I have been a GSR my entire time a UCSB. I spend most of my time doing research but also maintaining and training others on tools in our lab.
The environment at UCSB is unbelievable in such a great way. I work with other grad students in and outside of my group on a daily basis. Students are so willing to work together to help others with their research and everyone takes the responsibility of collaboration very seriously. In my experience, the faculty are also very willing to work with students advised by other professors and share resources. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to collaborate with researchers from other academic institutions and industry. The research that is done at UCSB is world-class so I have never struggled with getting people outside of UCSB to take an interest in my work.
After I finish my Ph.D. at UCSB, I would like to pursue a career that combines research and science communication skills to interface between very technical R&D and potential customers or collaborators. I find academic research very rewarding but work better in the faster paced world of industry.
ECE has excellent professors, outstanding facilities and resources that allow students to acquire a depth and breadth of knowledge that you cannot find anywhere else.
ECE 220A. Learning about device fabrication for the first time and actually seeing a theoretical design materialize inspired me to pursue optical devices for my thesis.
The screening exam is by far the most intense and intimidating experience that I have had in my academic career. It does help prepare you for the rigors of defending your own work in the qualifying exam, which is much more relaxed and collaborative.
I have had a great quality of life during my entire time as a grad student. UCSB professors are very understanding of the need to have a balanced life. They encourage you to have enjoyable free time because it makes you more productive during your research time. I am able to maintain friendships with grad students and working professionals, a great relationship with my long-term boyfriend that works for a local Santa Barbara company, and even daily walks with my adorable (but very mischievous) dog. Getting a Ph.D. is a lot of work, but I haven't struggled with maintaining balance throughout the process.
I definitely have a busy social life! I live in downtown SB on the Mesa and I love it. I really like to be close to nightlife, shopping, and restaurants. It's so nice to meet friends downtown or just be a quick walk from the grocery store. Also, living a little farther away from UCSB helps me to maintain some separation between work and home. It's really easy as a grad student to be thinking about work all of the time, but if you give yourself some time to enjoy other activities, you will be much more efficient and productive. Overall, I LOVE living in Santa Barbara! The weather is amazing. There is so much do all year round and there are so many great community events to take part in. I am definitely considering living in SB after I finish up my Ph.D.
My summers have been spent doing lot of different things. Traveling to conferences, lots of research at UCSB, and mentoring interns take up most of my time during the summer. Summer is usually a really productive time for me because classes aren't going on and there is more time to focus on research; however, there is definitely still time for BBQs, beach trips, and lots of golf.
Go to graduate school in a place that you would like to live and you will be much happier with the whole graduate school process. Also, take the time to find an advisor that matches your lifestyle and working habits. Your relationship with your advisor will be one of the most significant that you will have in graduate school - so take the decision seriously.