Undergraduate Profiles

Brian Sandler, Senior Computer Engineering Majorphoto of brian sandler

Photo of brian sandler

About Brian:

  • Hometown: Carlisle, MA  and Del Mar, CA
  • Favorite Class: Computer Security (CMPSC 177), Databases (CS 174A ), Machine Learning (CS 165B), and Networking (CS176A/B)
  • Senior Project: Sonos COM. – an intercom device that lets you send voice messages to any Sonos system in your home
  • Student Organizations: Tau Beta Pi – The Engineering Honor Society
  • Hobbies: hiking with friends, exploring new places, and programming for fun
  • Interesting Aside About You:  While I’m originally from Massachusetts, my family and I moved to California in 2008

Brian's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: It’s a tie between Train and Maroon 5
  • TV Show: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report / The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation
  • Book / Author: The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
  • Activity: snowboarding, snowshoeing, snow__________, building/designing systems, exploring new places
  • Sport: snowboarding (I bet you didn’t see that one coming!)
  • Geeky Possession: My Yaesu VX-6R Handheld Ham Radio (I carry my technician class amateur radio license card around with me everywhere, so that too)

High School Experience:

  • Favorite class: Spanish! All of my teachers made the class so much fun and a joy to be in every single day. And their enthusiasm is very contagious :) I wish I could take their Spanish classes forever. AP Chemistry was tough, but it was a lot of fun. And we had a Pop Culture class that was incredibly cool!
  • Share what your college search was like: I focused on schools within California, and particularly the UC System. I used a tool called Naviance that our school provided us access to that was extremely helpful as well. It let us explore and learn more about the schools and, I also believe, some admissions information.

Preparation for College:

  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: Programming on my own time for fun and being a part of a FIRST robotics team (FRC). But my math classes also didn’t hurt.
  • Are there any classes that you suggest EE students take before entering UCSB?: Do as much math as you can ahead of time. You’ll put yourself in a better position to learn physics and more! And then you don’t have to take as many math courses here too. But also, don’t worry: as a CE, you don’t necessarily have to study topics that are math heavy. But math is everywhere, so it definitely helps to have a solid foundation in it.
  • Any additional experiences that you would like to share with students to help them prepare for college?: Check if your school has a For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics team. It was an incredible hands on experience! You get to build robots and learn about software and hardware, as well as some mechanical engineering topics. Oh, and you may get to travel too. Even if your school doesn’t have a team, you might be able to start one!

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: as an institution UCSB values both education and research. There are many undergraduate research opportunities and I highly recommend that everyone take advantage of them. Also, I love the community on campus!
  • CE Program: The program has not only amazing faculty, but also great graduate students. As TAs they are extremely helpful, kind, and care about us undergrads! They also do an amazing job of patiently explaining concepts to us and are readily available and accessible.
  • Santa Barbara: On one side of campus we have the mountains of Los Padres National Forest, on the other side we have the Pacific ocean. No matter which way you look you have a beautiful view. The mountains have many great places for hiking. Another thing I love about Santa Barbara is that it has a small town feel but also has many stores conveniently located either in Goleta or Santa Barbara (I promise you can live without a local Target).

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why Computer Engineering?: I’ve been interested in computers and programming since I was very young. I also wasn’t really sure whether or not I wanted to pursue something more physics/hardware based (such as Electrical Engineering) or something more theoretical (like Computer Science). The CE program involves some of both, and ultimately it’s up to you to decide which way you take it.
  • Why UCSB?: UC Santa Barbara is a well known institution located in an amazing place. Additionally, the Computer Engineering program here gives you an extreme amount of flexibility to learn in a direction that suits your interests and passions. Because the CE program involves courses in both the ECE and Computer Science departments, when it comes time to picking electives you will have many choices of paths.
  • How did you hear about UCSB's Computer Engineering program?: This one isn’t super exciting: I saw the major as an option on the UC application.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice on applying to UCSB: Students - Take the time to explore the ECE, CE, and CS websites. And definitely click through to some of the faculty’s websites.  This is a great way to understand what courses they teach and what areas they are researching in. It will give you a feel for what kind of areas you will be able to pursue, both inside the lecture hall or classroom, and in the lab. Parents - UCSB is a widely respected institution that will offer numerous opportunities to your child. Your child will be able to not only pursue their passions and interest but work with some amazing faculty and students.
  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: This is quite literally an infinite list. Some of them include: embedded software development, design PCBs and embedded systems, build digital systems, high level software development, or pursue a graduate degree in Computer Science or ECE. If you want to pursue a career in software development, you can do that. But if you’d rather pursue something more hardware related, you have that option open to you as well. The CE program will give you a valuable perspective on how you can more efficiently use your computational resources because you’ll have an understanding of the underlying hardware.

The Curriculum:

  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering? You have the power to pursue what interests you the most. You’ll also get exposure to both hardware and software, which will prove extremely useful no matter which direction you choose for your career (EE, CE, or CS).
  • What has your experience been like taking the Math and Physics core classes? Some may be challenging for you, so don’t give up! The good news is that many of your friends will be taking those same classes. Form study groups with them and not only will you feel better during exams, you’ll have built up stronger friendships too!
  • Talk about your Capstone (188A/B) experience so far: I’m on a multidisciplinary project, and it is a great experience! You get to work alongside electrical engineering and mechanical engineer students to create an actual product. Capstone will no doubt help you when going forward to work in industry. Even if you go into academia, you’ll still gain valuable teamwork and technical experience.
  • What area do you want to specialize in?: I’m really interested in building scalable and practical systems! And I’m looking forward to learning about this during my graduate studies. I’m also looking forward to learning more about security and privacy in the context of large scale systems.
  • Have you had any on-campus research opportunities at UCSB? Not through any organized program, but I’ve worked in ECE Professor Madhow's Wireless Communications and Sensornets Lab.
  • Have you done an internship?: Yes! I’ve done a few things… My freshman year I worked for Engineering Computing Infrastructure (they provide IT services for the College of Engineering). There I got some great experience working on various projects as well as writing some documentation.

    After my freshman year I was an undergraduate researcher during the summer in the Wireless Communications and Sensornets Lab (WCSL) in the ECE department. I investigated GPS signals for smartphones and tablets and it was an overall amazing experience. My involvement there ultimately led to me joining a startup company, called ShadowMaps. ShadowMaps did GPS position correction software for urban environments (such as big cities). There I got a ton of experience building web applications, developing software, and working with a cloud environment (Amazon Web Services). I worked throughout the school year, as well as over a summer, and was with them for over a year (late Sophomore through Junior year). This past summer (2016), ShadowMaps got acquired! Woohoo! There's a ShadowMaps success story on the UCSB Office of Technology & Industry website.

    During the beginning of my sophomore year I had an internship at GLENWorld, an English language learning non-profit based here in Goleta. With them I exercised my Web Dev skills to build a language learning application for children. I now volunteer for them when time permits.

    The summer after my Junior year I joined Uber in San Francisco as a software engineering intern on the Sensing and Perception Team. The best thing you can do as a student is internships! They are an incredible complement to your education at UCSB. UCSB is a great research institution, and as an undergrad you should definitely take advantage of that by finding a professor who is working on something you’re interested in, and joining them. Also, find a company that does something you’re passionate about and join them! Hands on experience goes a long way. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of your summers and to keep being involved with something during the school year too.

Brian's Off-campus Life:

What is campus life like for Computer Engineering students?: We’re a small major (in terms of number of people), and as you go through more and more courses with each other, friendships will grow. But campus life will be similar to that of any other student.

What is the social seen on campus, in IV, and off-campus like for CE students?: It is what you want it to be. If you like the party life, UCSB definitely can accommodate that. But if your ideal social scene is just hanging around with friends (or exploring new places with them) then that is available too. Every kind of social scene is available, and you’ll find plenty of friends (both in and outside of the CE program) to have fun however you like.

Describe your housing experience frosh to present and give advice/feedback about housing and where to live: I lived in FT my first year (the towers on El Colegio Rd, and also known as Santa Catalina). I was a bit skeptical at first about living far away from campus, but in reality it was still pretty close and it formed a great sense of community among everyone. I met a lot of my current friends there too! (The biking only gets tough when it’s windy… then it sometimes felt easier to just walk my bike.) My second year I lived on campus in San Rafael, and that was super convenient! My third and fourth years I lived in the San Clemente university owned apartments, and those are really nice. You get your own bedroom and only have to share a bathroom with one other person. But they’re really supposed to be for graduate students, and I’m unsure if they’re letting undergraduates stay there in the future.

The Future:

  • What are your plans/aspirations after graduation?: College – Round 2... I’m going to be pursuing a PhD in Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. After that I plan on going into industry to keep on building! Though we’re talking years down the line, so who knows?

Yang Ren, Senior Computer Engineering Majorphoto of yan ren

Photo of Yang Ren

About Yang:

  • Hometown: Albany, CA
  • Hobbies: Video Games, Camping/Backpacking
  • Favorite Course: Operating Systems (CMPSC170)
  • Senior Project: Hyperloop project (Sensors and Controls leader) – a multi-disciplinary project to create a pod for SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition
  • Interesting Aside about Yang: I have gone backpacking in New Mexico and Alaska

Yang's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: Maroon 5
  • TV Show: How I Met Your Mother
  • Movie: Ant-Man
  • Book / Author: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  • Sport: Ice Skating

High School Experience and Preparation for College:

  • Favorite class: AP Computer Science was my favorite class in high school because it was easily the most interesting class. Science classes often have these cool labs and experiments, but learning how to program gives you the tools to go and create whatever you want. You aren’t restricted in any way because there are tons of resources and reference materials online. The way the class was taught also made it enjoyable. Our teacher Mr. Morris didn’t believe in learning to code from a textbook but instead thought that the best way to learn how to code was to write lots of code.
  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: Taking AP courses in high school helped me the most in preparing me for my freshman year courses. Just being used to taking classes with the same level of difficulty made the transition a lot smoother.
  • Are there any classes that you suggest CE students take before entering UCSB?: AP Computer Science, or any computer science course offered at your school. Knowing how to program before you start your Freshman CE classes gives you a huge running start.

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: The bike paths make getting to class extremely convenient if you own a bike.
  • CE Program: The variety of interesting courses offered and the professors who are super friendly and ready to answer questions.
  • Santa Barbara: The location. Goleta and Santa Barbara are right in-between the mountains and the ocean, so you have a national forest on one side and several beaches on the other. Downtown Santa Barbara is also just a bus ride away from the UCSB campus.

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why Computer Engineering?: I didn’t know too much about what Computer Engineering was when I was first applying to college. At the time, I had taken a few computer science classes in high school, so I knew that programming was something that I enjoyed, but I didn’t know much else. In the end, I chose Computer Engineering as my major because I wanted to explore the computer hardware and circuit design side of computers that I didn’t know anything about, to find out if it would be something that I might be interested in.
  • Why UCSB?: I heard a lot of good things about UCSB’s engineering program and the research that was being done here. After looking around online and visiting the campus, I decided that UCSB was the right place for me.
  • How did you hear about UCSB's Computer Engineering Program?: My high school academic counselor was the first to suggest UCSB’s engineering program to me.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice to students on applying to UCSB: If you’re still trying to decide if you want to apply to UCSB or if you don’t know what major you want to apply as – look through the UCSB course catalog. Seeing exactly what classes are offered here, and what the curriculum for each major looks like can help make the decision a lot easier. The UCSB engineering department also has the GEAR (General Engineering Academic Requirements), a booklet available online with engineering course descriptions and major requirements. Look through the upper division courses for each major and see if there’s a subject being taught that really stands out to you.
  • Looking back, what do you think you would have wanted your parents to know about UCSB Computer Engineering?: I would have wanted them to know more about what differentiated CE from CS and EE, and about the different subject matters that each major focuses on.
  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: A Computer Engineering degree shares several benefits with both a Computer Science degree and an Electrical Engineering degree. Computer Engineering students have the option of taking courses from both the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering departments, so what you can do with your degree can be greatly affected by what courses you decide to take. Most of the jobs that are offered to CS or EE majors are also offered to CE majors, but you need to show that you understand and have experience with the material related to the job. In addition to the CS and EE fields where CE majors can find employment, there are several CE-specific fields, like embedded system and processor design.

The Curriculum:

  • Favorite Class: CMPSC170 Operating Systems has been my favorite course so far here at UCSB. It’s a challenging course that ties together a lot of the concepts taught in earlier CS and ECE courses (data structures, hardware parallelism) while at the same time introducing a completely new set of ideas (software threads, scheduling). Because an operating system acts as the bridge between the software running on a computer and the computer’s physical hardware, it interacts with both sides in unique and interesting ways.
  • Senior Project: I am working on the Hyperloop project as the Sensors and Controls team leader. The project is a multidisciplinary project where computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering teams are working together to create a pod for SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition. The focus of the Sensors and Controls team this past quarter has been on interfacing our printed circuit board with new pod sensors and peripherals. Next quarter we will be creating a state machine based control system for the pod while the ME teams get the pod physically constructed.
  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering?: You can choose to take most any of the classes offered to both EE and CS majors, so it becomes easier to find the subjects that interest you the most. This gives you a lot of flexibility when choosing your upper division courses, allowing you to lean more towards CS or EE depending on your preferences.
  • What have you learned that has surprised you so far?: The most surprising thing I’ve learned is just how simple the underlying design of a computer processor is. In the computer architecture courses (ECE154A/B) you design a very basic processor in Verilog, a language that models the behavior of digital circuits, and then gradually improve upon your design with techniques that are used in the designs of actual computer processors. The schematic for an extremely basic, but functional, processor easily fits on a single sheet of paper.
  • Are there any specific classes that you are looking forward to?: I am looking forward to my programming languages course that I am taking next quarter (CMPSC162). Learning how to code in a new language is one thing, but learning about why a language is designed the way it is, or learning about the different types of programming languages and their advantages sounds extremely interesting.
  • What area do you want to specialize in?: I want to specialize in operating systems, simply because it’s been my favorite subject so far and because it utilizes so many ideas from different fields of computer science and engineering to solve its unique problems.

The Future:

  • Have you done an internship?: I am currently a software engineering intern at a local tech company in Goleta called InTouch Health where they develop telepresence robots for hospital environments.  My work there involves researching and integrating WebRTC C++ APIs into their robot software. WebRTC is a peer-to-peer real-time video and data transfer library that has been adopted by most of the popular web browsers used today. Familiarizing myself and working with their large code base has been my biggest challenge, but I have learned much in the process.
  • What are your plans/aspirations after graduation?: My plan is to attend graduate school for two years to get a Master’s of Science in Computer Science. I want to learn more about operating system design and see if research and academia might be a good fit for me. If not, I would want to go into industry and look for a job in the Bay Area.

Yang's Off-campus Life:

  • Describe your housing situation: I started off living in the Santa Catalina dorms during my freshman year, moved off campus to live in The Sweeps my sophomore year, and lived in university-owned apartments my junior and senior years (Sierra Madre and Santa Ynez). Living in the dorms is great for meeting new people, but apartments are more spacious and it’s nice to have a living room and a kitchen. Once you get to know some people during your freshman year, it’s easy to get a couple friends together to rent an apartment in Isla Vista. My favorite location so far has by far been Santa Ynez.

Noura Kiroloss, Senior Computer Engineering Majorphoto of noura kirloloss in the lab

Photo of noura kiroloss

About Noura Kiroloss :

  • Hometown: Lawndale, California
  • Favorite Class: Mobile embedded systems (ECE 150)
  • Senior Capstone Project: ResQ Sensor – a motion / heat sensor system that detects heat, follows it and when it's too hot turns on a water sprinkler
  • Organizations: Sigma Theta Psi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.
  • Last Book Read: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

  • Hobbies: Going to the beach, watching TV shows, crafting, hiking, cooking

Noura's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: Drake
  • TV Show: Game of Thrones
  • Movie: The Notebook
  • Book / Author: Paulo Coelho
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Activity: Painting my nails

High School Experience:

  • Favorite class: My favorite class was the AP calculus series. I thought it was challenging and I usually competed with two other friends for the highest grade on exams.
  • High school mentor?: My high school mentor was my math teacher. He always challenged me to go above and beyond the course work given.

Preparation for College:

  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: I would have to say that taking AP math and science classes in high school was what mostly prepared me for engineering and what college classes would be like in general.
  • Are there any classes that you suggest EE students take before entering UCSB?: Any AP math or science class will help with engineering especially if you pass the AP exam since these classes can count for credit which can reduce the number of required prerequisites.
  • Any additional experiences that you would like to share with students to help them prepare for college?: Try to expose yourself to college courses prior to college, for example taking a college robotics class. These courses will help you adjust quicker when you become a full time engineering college student.

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: UCSB is such a friendly community of staff and students. There are plenty of resources available in all aspects of college life. Not to mention the location of campus being alongside the beach which provides for some amazing personal downtime.
  • CE Program: My favorite thing about the computer engineering program is all the hands on experience and real life applications. It makes the material easier to learn and more enjoyable.
  • Santa Barbara: My favorite thing about Santa Barbara is the slower pace of travel. You can actually take time to enjoy the scenery rather than always being rushed to get somewhere or being stuck in traffic.

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why Computer Engineering?: I knew I wanted to become an engineer because I have always had an interest in math and science. Coming in as an undeclared freshman, I was able to compare and contrast the difference between the different engineering majors and decided that computer engineering was the major for me. It is a good balance between computer science and electrical engineering and deals with many day-to-day uses in life.
  • Why UCSB?: I specifically chose to come to UCSB because I knew it had an amazing engineering program. Prior to attending, I was still undecided on what specific engineering major I wanted to be in. I was fortunate to have met people living in my dorm that were in the major and we quickly bonded over it.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice on applying to UCSB: Do not let the "party" reputation of UCSB stop you from applying to this amazing school. The diversity of students you will meet and all the other opportunities you can become a part of helps shape you into a well rounded individual that is ready to take on the real world by graduation.
  • Looking back, what do you think you would have wanted your parents to know about UCSB Computer Engineering?: I would have liked my parents to know a little more about the program and what types of things I'd be working on with the major.
  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: With a computer engineering degree, one can work as either a software engineer or hardware engineering since both are taught. There is also the opportunity to continue with education and become a teacher or professor. One can even build their own start up company. There are infinite opportunities with this degree.

The Curriculum:

  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering?: The benefit is the unlimited job opportunities you'll have after college as well as being able to switch back and fourth between the two.
  • Are there any specific classes that you are looking forward to?: One of my favorite things about college is that you get to focus on the subject you like the most. Since math is my favorite subject, I enjoyed taking all the classes I had to take and went beyond what was even required for CE majors.
  • What was your most challenging but rewarding course?: The most challenging courses I had to take was the Circuits, Devices, & Systems series (ECE 2A/B/C) . These courses were really challenging but helped put into perspective what engineering would be like. To overcome the difficulty of the course, I had to dedicate more time to studying the material and surround myself with classmates that did the same. We helped each other learn by forming study groups.
  • What area do you want to specialize in?: I look forward to specializing in app development. I have taken an android course and enjoyed it very much that I am currently taking another. It was rewarding to see how hours of coding can be put into an application that is designed from the bottom up by you.

The Future:

  • What are your plans/aspirations after graduation?: After I graduate, I plan on first traveling before starting work right away. I plan on moving to LA and finding an entry level position in app development so I can use the knowledge I have gained so far.

Noura's Off-campus Life:

  • What is the social scene like for CE students?: I don't think there is a huge difference in social lives of CE majors than most other majors offered at UCSB. Occasionally there will be times where you spend a large number of hours in labs. However with good time management, one can always find time to enjoy campus life and have fun.
  • Describe your housing situation: For my first two years, I lived in the on campus student dorms. I enjoyed it because I was very close to classes, didn't have to clean much or worry about cooking, and made lots of friends easily. After that, I lived off campus in regular apartments. This was also a good experience because it allowed me to feel what adult life is like. Dealing with bills as well as cooking and cleaning after myself was definitely different than living on campus.

Connor Buckland, Senior Computer Engineering Majorphoto of connor buckland

Photo of connor buckland

About Connor:

  • Hometown: Honolulu, HI
  • Organizations: Tau Beta Pi Honors Engineering Society
  • Favorite CE-related Courses: Hardware/Software Interface (ECE 153A) and Robotics – Control (ECE 179D)
  • Senior Capstone Project: SpaceX Hyperloop – a magnetically levitated capsule to enter into the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition

  • Last Book Read: The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  • Hobbies: Snowboarding, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Painting, Reading, Chess, Cooking
  • Something Unique About You: I once lived on a ranch, and spent many weekends building and repairing fence-line

Connor's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: Ratatat
  • TV Show: Breaking Bad
  • Movie: The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
  • Book / Author: Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  • Sport: Snowboarding
  • Activity: Hiking
  • Geeky Possession: A helmet from the movie set of "Gladiator"

High School Experience:

  • Favorite class: Other than AP Physics C, the courses that most prepared me for university were Introduction to Java and AP Computer Science. Without these classes, I would not have pursued a career in computer programming, as I would not have had enough exposure to the field. I think that more high schools need courses like AP Physics C and AP Computer Science to ECE 153A - Hardware/Software Interface and ECE 179D - Robotics: Control introduce students to what Engineering involves.
  • High school mentor?: I was lucky enough in high school to have many excellent mentors, but the most relevant to my Engineering degree was Dr. Inouye. He taught AP Physics C, which was really an introduction to Engineering. In Physics C, I built a magnetic damped harmonic oscillator, and analyzed it numerically using a 6th order differential equation. I then constructed a robotic arm using Lego parts and controlled it using an Arduino. What was most effective about his teaching style was that he was hands off, and let the students figure out how to solve problems for themselves.
  • Share what your college search was like: My university search was focused on a positive experience over university ratings. Many schools receive good ratings, but at UCSB students support one another, which is conducive to learning. In order to excel, I need to genuinely enjoy what I am studying, and I feel that UCSB has allowed me to find great passion in my coursework.

Preparation for College:

  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: Outside of high school coursework, I was very lucky to have an Engineer as a father. He taught me from a young age how to solder simple circuits, how to program, and instilled in me a work ethic. He provided me insight into what Engineering is and why I would enjoy it, without doing anything to push me towards the field.
  • Are there any classes that you suggest EE students take before entering UCSB?: Engineering courses are rare in high school, so take any that are available. Take the highest level math class available, and take anything involving programming or circuits. If these are not available to you, try to take a Computer Science class online or at your local community college, buy a book and teach yourself to program, or buy an Arduino and experiment with simple projects.

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: UCSB to me is one of the most comprehensive college experiences available. Students learn much more than what they came to study, and gain an appreciation for working and interacting with other people. While coursework is challenging and competitive, there is a genuine sense of camaraderie among students that seems unique to our campus. The UCSB community really does mean it when they say they "GauchoBack".
  • CE Program: The Computer Engineering program at UCSB has a great balance of lab-based hands on learning, and theoretical studies. On top of this, the program gives students exposure to some very prestigious experts in the field. These Professors are more than happy to help students, both inside and outside of the classroom, whether it be with coursework, to provide insights into complex and abstract ideas, or simply to stop and chat.
  • Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara is a beautiful city. With ocean on one side, and mountains on the other, it seems like there is no escaping adventure.

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why Computer Engineering?: I really like the Capstone element of the UCSB Computer Engineering program. All Computer Engineering students can either choose to complete the Computer Science Capstone, a software project sponsored by industry, or the Computer Engineering Capstone, featuring the design, fabrication, and programming of a printed circuit board based on the team's product idea. I chose the Computer Engineering Capstone, and our team is working with two Mechanical Engineering teams, and an Electrical Engineering team. Together, we are designing and constructing a magnetically levitated capsule to enter into the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in June. We will be competing with a plethora of other schools and businesses for the most effective design. Our team is responsible for controlling this system and I am learning a huge amount about the Engineering design process.
  • Why UCSB?: I came to UCSB interested in computer programming, but was unsure which direction I wanted to go. Computer Engineering has allowed me to stay open with my studies, picking and choosing courses, and delving into a multitude of curiosities. I’ve received a very versatile education, and feel that I have many open options to pursue, as well as gaining a much more concrete understanding of my career goals.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice on applying to UCSB: Students – choose a major up front, especially if interested in Engineering. The College of Engineering does not have an Undeclared major, so this requires some soul searching before submitting an application. Once you've been accepted and are on campus, talk to your adviser about what you're interested in. You don't have to commit to anything just yet, but it's good to have a general idea of where you're going, or at least to be thinking about what interests you. Finally, don't be afraid to reach out to your peers, and more importantly to your mentors. They are there to help you. Parents – have an open discussion with their children about career interests before they start applying to schools. Many incoming students don't know what Engineering involves, or which major is right for them. On top of this, I’ve seen some students pushed by their parents into a field that they are not necessarily keen on, and this can be detrimental to their education.
  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: Computer Engineering is to a large degree the intersection of Hardware and Software. Computer Engineering students learn about computers at all layers of abstraction - from the individual transistors at the chip level, to the implementation of objected-oriented code. A Computer Engineering degree can open many doors to either a Hardware or Software career, and can be tailored to fit a student's interests. Personally, I have specialized in Embedded Systems, Networking, Robotics, and Control Systems, to a large degree positioning myself on the borderline between Hardware and Software. This has allowed me to pursue many interests throughout my education, while keeping plenty of options open.

The Curriculum:

  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering?: Because CE is a cross between CS and EE, students learn a large amount about both fields, and can specialize in whichever they like more. Students have access to all courses in both departments, so as long as they have the prerequisites, they can explore any of their interests on either side.
  • What have you learned that has surprised you so far?: A very powerful concept that I learned from both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering courses was orders of magnitude, or negligibility. While this was not necessarily surprising, negligibility is a fundamental concept existing in many fields of Engineering that allows mathematical models to be simplified by eliminating unimportant details.
  • What has your experience been like taking the Math & Physics core classes?: Although the core Math courses were interesting, I found the core Physics courses to be frustrating, as I had already learned the material in high school but these AP courses did not receive credit, as Engineering major requirements cannot be displaced with AP credit. If you have taken classes up to AP Physics C, I would recommend taking an alternate series of Physics courses, such as the series for Physics majors.
  • Are there any specific classes that you are looking forward to?: I am very much looking forward to ECE 179P - Robotics: Path Planning. I enjoy routing algorithms, and I think that there will be some interesting crossover between the two fields. Some of the best insights in Engineering come from seeing the same problem from multiple perspectives.
  • What was your most challenging but rewarding course?: The most challenging but rewarding course I have taken was ECE 153A - Hardware/Software Interface. ECE 153A was taught by Professor Brewer, who assigned complex engineering tasks and took a hands off approach to the course. At first, learning embedded software with little guidance was very frustrating, but over time I gained a fundamental understanding of how an embedded processor functions, and how to program one. This class taught me a huge amount about Computer Engineering and my own interests, and even led to an awesome internship that summer. I had to put in a huge amount of effort, but the results and knowledge gained were entirely rewarding.

The Future:

  • What are your plans/aspirations after graduation?: I plan to go into industry after graduation. I will be working for Sonos.
  • Do you plan to go into graduate school?: I may go back to school after working for a few years, to enhance my readiness for industry. This could either be in pursuit of a Ph.D., or more likely, an M.B.A.

Connor's Off-campus Life:

  • What is the social scene like for CE students?: UCSB has a great social life with opportunities for everyone. There is an on campus club or organization for almost any interest, so get involved! One of the most valuable things you can learn here is time management.
  • Describe your housing situation: I didn't have the best housing experience freshman year, as I found that my interests didn't closely align with those of my floor-mates. I would advise living in an engineering or honors floor if possible. Chances are that the people there will have much more in common with you.