photo of yuya nemoto

Yuya Nemoto – Class of 2023

In his own words – interviewed Winter 2023

  • Hometown: Torrance, CA
  • Year: Senior, class of ‘23
  • Favorite ECE Course: Integrated Circuit Design and Fabrication (ECE 120B)
  • Senior Project: Self-Amplified Guitar
  • Student Organization Memberships: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Tau Beta Pi (The Engineering Honor Society)
  • Last Book Read: Noise in Solid State Devices and Circuits by Aldert van der Ziel
  • Interesting aside about you: I’m half Japanese, half Cantonese

Yuya’s Favorite

  • Hobbies: osu!, Rainbow Six Siege, singing in the shower at 3 a.m.
  • Band / Performer: ONE OK ROCK
  • TV Show: Game of Thrones
  • Movie: Top Gun: Maverick
  • Book / Author: Alice in Borderland by Haro Asō
  • Activity: Sleeping in on weekends
  • Sport: Badminton
  • Geeky Possession: The LEGO Agents Mobile Command Center

Favorite things about

  • ECE Department: All of the professors in the department are incredibly knowledgeable and eager to help students learn the material. On that note, talk to your professors; I’ve been told time and time again in the past to do so, and it took me a while to realize that it’s definitely worth the time to not only enhance your understanding of the material, but hear about their research interests. There is also a wide range of interesting course material offered every quarter, so it’s not just fixing lightbulbs!
  • UCSB: The close proximity to the beach is nice if you want to take a relaxing walk or have a nice beach day with friends. I disappointingly can’t swim, but if you can, a quick dip in the water is only a few minutes away. Apart from that, the people you meet are very friendly and inclusive; there are plenty of clubs and organizations you can join, tailored to your interests. The campus is also bike-friendly, so you can get around campus quite easily.
  • Santa Barbara: There are plenty of scenic places in the area that you can visit on an open weekend. The Goleta Butterfly Grove is a personal favorite of mine, and it’s not that far from campus. Or, if you’re looking for an all-day activity, Solvang’s only a short drive away. Plenty of food options are available in the area as well, from Goleta to Downtown.

Yuya’s most memorable moments that happened each year

  • Freshman Year: I remember when COVID first hit, and the administration had announced right before Spring Break that students were to pack up their things and leave. Funnily enough, my family was coming to pick me up when this was sent out, but little did they know that we would be driving back with everything I had on campus.
  • Sophomore Year: I was enrolled in “Zoom University” for the duration of this year! It was great being cooped up at home and not being able to meet friends in-person! On a serious note, I’d say it would be winning SB Hacks VII, UCSB’s (mostly) annual hackathon. It was fun messing around with my friends over Discord, losing our minds staying up all night working on our coding project.
  • Junior Year: There was a series of special topics courses taught in the ECE department for photonics – a very interesting field, by the way. At the time I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but taking all three helped shape the research interests I have now. It also helped me land my first research lab experience.
  • Senior Year: I’m going to be a “teaching assistant” for ECE 135 (Optical Fiber Communications) in the upcoming quarter, which will be a first for me. The quotations are there because undergraduates aren’t technically allowed to be TA’s, but with some workarounds, here we are! I’ve always tutored students during middle/high school, so it’ll be nice to go back to my roots. I hope I can be of help to the students.

Yuya and Electrical Engineering

Why EE as a major? During high school, I took AP Physics 1, 2, and both parts of C. The electromagnetism and circuits aspects of the courses resonated with me the most, even though I wasn’t the best at the subject, so here I am now. If you also happen to like physics, there are plenty of interesting courses to take in their department here, too.

Why did you select UCSB's EE program? Initially, I was drawn to UCSB ’s Materials program since it is world-renowned. In the end, I didn’t follow that path, mainly because the EE program here has a ton of courses offered in different specialized topics, and I slowly diverted from that path towards other topics such as photonics.

How did you hear about UCSB's EE program? In high school, I was doing some hunting for colleges to consider applying to, and naturally I was interested in the UCs. UCSB has an ECE webpage containing a plethora of information, and that’s where I got most of the initial exposure from,

Prospective students and parents often ask, what can you do with an EE degree? Having an EE degree opens up career opportunities after and even during your college education. Most of my friends snagged summer internships as a way to get industry experience, which helps a lot in the future when seeking a full-time position. A couple of them ended up sticking with that specific company and are planning to start full-time immediately after graduating. So, obtaining an EE degree–or any STEM degree at that–is pretty much a bare minimum for these particular industry positions. With an EE degree in particular, this grants you the ability to work in different subdisciplines, ranging from designing printed circuit boards to testing analog or digital hardware. An undergraduate education is also necessary for a graduate degree, which not only furthers your education, but helps build a stronger foundation for you as a job applicant in the future.

The Curriculum

What have you learned that has surprised you the most so far? The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that a lot of the introductory material you learn shows up in a lot of the elective courses you end up taking later on. There are some concepts that you may learn and lose deep understanding about–I’ve been there–but it actually shouldn’t be a surprise that it’ll show up again. For instance, in my freshman year, I took ECE 3, which essentially goes over the basic concepts of signal processing. At the time I didn’t find the material that interesting, but the concepts like Fourier analysis would show up time and time again in circuits, image processing, photonics, etc.

What has your experience been like taking the Math and Physics core classes? The lower-division core classes may be daunting since you’re up against a large number of students, including those from outside your major. However, if you study the material to a reasonable extent, you should do fine. I’d say Math 6A, or vector calculus, was the hardest one, though. Math 6B is probably the second hardest, but the PhD student teaching it was very lenient and enthusiastic about the material–shoutout to Daniel Halmrast! As for the physics courses, the main coursework is relatively straightforward, but you’ll likely be doing assignments through “Mastering Physics,” which is quite the test of patience. Also, be wary of the labs: they may require more work than you’d expect.

What has been your most challenging but rewarding course? Recently, I took Communication Electronics II (ECE 218B), which is a graduate cross-listed course with Communication Electronics II (ECE 145B). Having taken the undergraduate course in the Fall, I thought that I might as well take the graduate level since the additional work graduate students did in 145A was tractable. The material was interesting and relevant to what I’ve seen in my previous photonics research, though the difficulty quickly ramped up in the last few weeks of the quarter. Nevertheless, the material remained crucial to understand, and I thought it was a valuable experience despite having a bit of a surprise of a final exam!

Are there any specific classes that you are looking forward to? I’m looking forward to taking Molecular Beam Epitaxy and Band Gap Engineering (ECE 217) next year. I unfortunately don’t have the time to take it this year, but after crashing one lecture, I was very drawn to the professor’s teaching style and the material. Other graduate courses related to photonics research are also on my radar, such as Semiconductor Device Physics (ECE 221A/B) and the Fiber Optic Communications (ECE 228A).

Talk about your Capstone (ECE 188ABC) experience so far: I’m part of the Self-Amplified Guitar project, which we dubbed as “AMPED”–this is not an acronym! We basically utilize an acoustic guitar’s body as a resonant structure for it to act as its own speaker, adding some digital signal processing in-between to emulate analog guitar effects.

What area do you want to specialize in? I’m leaning towards photonics, which is the field of studying and manipulating light. I’d say a lot of the coursework I’ve taken during the last two years of undergrad have been tailored towards this, either through studying the theory or playing around in laboratory environments. The research I’ve been doing up until now has also been photonics-focused, so it would be nice to pick up where I left off.

Have you had any honors at UCSB? I’ve maintained on the College of Engineering Dean’s Honors List for most of my ungrad. This requires a certain GPA per quarter alongside a minimum unit count, but I lost it last quarter due to allocating course units towards my upcoming master’s degree. I also got an essay discussing the ethics of gene therapy published in the 2020 edition of Starting Lines, which is an anthology of undergraduate works. I was awarded first place in the “Posing Problems/Taking Positions” category.

Preparation from High School to College

What prepared you the most for studying engineering in college? I would use the obvious answer here and say take coursework in high school so that you either don’t have to take it in college, or will come prepared when it comes time to take the respective courses. This is mainly applicable to the math and physics courses, either as an AP, from a community college, or simply by browsing the web–there are various online courses. YouTube also has some fantastic resources, especially for engineering, so just being curious and getting exposed to what people are up to in the field is a good hobby. Nevertheless, I’d say the best preparation for engineering in college is creating good habits during high school. Good time management and effective study habits will carry over into college, so long as you choose to carry it over.

Are there any classes that you suggest EE students take before entering UCSB: Definitely take AP Calculus AB or BC prior to coming to UCSB–or any university, for that matter. Having a good background in calculus will save you some coursework and give you a head start on graduation progress. Some physics exposure during high school wouldn’t hurt, either, though I should mention that upon coming to UCSB, the credit counted towards units that didn’t assist my graduation requirements. I’d also advise that you try to knock out other graduation requirements for EE prior to starting your undergrad. I made the mistake of neglecting my writing and history requirements, so I had to take a handful of additional courses to fulfill them. You can save some time if you tackle these in high school; I believe AP U.S. History and AP English Literature/Language will help, but you should double-check this yourself. These courses can also help fulfill graduation requirements at other colleges, too.

Student Life at UCSB

What is campus life like for EE students? EE students–especially as you take upper-division courses–will likely wind up spending a lot of time in Harold Frank Hall to focus on lab assignments. Apart from that, people typically seek study areas such as the library or CSIL, a computer lab I frequent, to discuss course material, homework, and exam preparation with fellow students. It’s a very collaborative environment among us, so having that company while on campus helps a bit during difficult times studying. Or, if you’re a lone wolf, there are plenty of quiet areas around campus to focus on your studies as well–I sometimes find myself studying alone at the library, too.

What is the social scene like on campus, in Isla Vista and off-campus like for EE students? Because EE is a relatively small major, most of the students you’ll meet will stay with you throughout all four years of your undergrad. At least for me, the friends I made in freshman year when I first came were also the friends I hung out with even now. Nevertheless, you’ll also be bound to meet many people outside of the major through mutual connections, and everyone is super friendly and welcoming. There are always tons of university-hosted and club events to meet new people. Your dorm RA may also host events as well–during my freshman year, I would attend events at Anacapa with my friends despite living in Manzanita, which is halfway across campus. So, contrary to popular belief, engineers can also have fun on the weekend, too–on the condition that there are no assignments due.

Describe your housing experience frosh to present: In freshman year, I was fortunate to land myself a spot in Manzanita Villages, right across the Carrillo Dining Commons. If you’d prefer to have a quieter nighttime environment, Manzie’s the go-to place for that. Ignoring the whole COVID situation, during my third year, I lived in Isla Vista on El Embarcadero, which is a bit closer to campus. It was an eight-person house, so while it’s a bit cheaper on your monthly rent, it could be a little hectic at times with the number of people. Currently, I am living a bit farther from campus on Camino Pescadero with two other housemates. The rent is a bit higher, but this is also a result of the lease being a last-minute grab during the school year. If you wind up needing to find housing at a university–not even limited to UCSB in particular–keep your eyes peeled for lease offers as early as possible. Some people even look around December for these spots to open up.

After Graduation

What are your “big picture” plans/aspirations after graduation? I’m going to be doing my fifth year here at UCSB to obtain my MS degree with an emphasis on electronics and photonics. Afterward, I’ll be looking to do a PhD in photonic devices, perhaps again at UCSB or elsewhere depending on the options given to me – UCSB’s been the leading university for photonics for quite a while, so it’s not a terrible idea to stay. I haven’t thought much about what to do after that, but I’ll probably look for an industry position where I can design integrated semiconductor devices.