Undergraduate Profiles

Sayali Kakade – Senior Computer Engineering Majorphoto of sayali kakade in the lab

Photo of Sayali Kakade

About Sayali:

  • Hometown: Cupertino, CA
  • Favorite Class: Computer Architecture (ECE 154B)
  • Senior Project: Eternal Flight – an autonomous mid-air drone battery replacement to extend time of flight without having to ground drones.
  • Organizations: Tau Beta Pi Association - The Engineering Honor Society
  • Last Book Read: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Hobbies: listen to music, traveling, dancing, hanging out w/ friends, working out

Sayali's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: Kanye West
  • TV Show: The Office / Game of Thrones
  • Movie: Aladdin
  • Book / Author: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Sport: Watching - basketball and Playing - swimming
  • Activity: Netflix
  • Interesting Aside About You: I played on my high school water polo team for all four years

High School Experience:

  • Favorite class: American Literature Honors was my favorite class. I’ve always loved to read so I would often read a whole book that we were assigned in just a few days. I loved the analytical discussions and that class made me think about literature in a different way for the first time.
  • High school mentor?: Thinking back to my high school experience, the teacher that had the most impact on my academic career was my APCS teacher. During my senior year, I signed up for APCS as my first programming class ever. Although the teacher knew it would be challenging since I had no background in computer science and most of the students had at least taken Java before, he encouraged me to stay in the class, and when I struggled with assignments, he would often stay for a few hours after school just to help me work through bugs and understand concepts. It would have been easy to be discouraged by a difficult beginning but he made sure that I didn’t lose confidence in my abilities.
  • Share what your college search was like: I knew I would probably stay in California and more likely than not, go to a UC since I wanted to be close to my family. I applied to most of the UCs and visited a few different campuses, but in particular, attending Spring Insight (an event for admitted freshmen that usually takes place in April) is what made me sure about attending UCSB.

Preparation for College:

  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: In terms of academics, taking certain math classes (outlined in the next question) helped prepare me. However, something that I think is much harder to prepare for is the mental aspect of studying engineering in college. There were many late nights in labs, weeks spent studying, sacrifices, stressful deadlines, etc. and it was important for me to learn how to take time to reflect on my priorities, the decisions I made, and how I could do better for myself. I think that much of this learning and growth happens in college itself, but it’s helpful to recognize that it’s important to take care of yourself (for example, I know that I need to sleep at least 8 hours and work out, and those are things that I can’t give up).
  • Are there any classes that you suggest CE students take before entering UCSB?: I would recommend taking as many math classes as possible. If you’re able to take the AP test or take the classes at a local community college, it’ll help you to forgo many of the lower division math requirements, giving you more time to focus on CE electives, research, etc. Additionally, having a strong math background is important to being successful in engineering, and I often found myself reviewing old math class materials. There is a website called UC Assist which can help you convert community college classes to their equivalent UC classes, which I found very helpful. If you have the chance, taking any kind of programming or electrical engineering class would be a great start as well.
  • Any additional experiences that you would like to share with students to help them prepare for college?: I think it’s important to keep in mind that everyone in college comes from a different background and to focus on yourself - don’t be worried about people who come in with more programming experience than you and don’t put anyone down who hasn’t been provided the same opportunities as you. If you’re coming in with less experience, it can be intimidating to be surrounded by people who have already taken all of the lower division classes in high school, but the curriculum definitely allows students with no prior experience the chance to learn everything they need to know before moving forward.

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: The campus is picturesque and the weather is (mostly) always great - we’re located right next to the ocean and surrounded by beautiful mountains. Whenever I need a break from studying, I can step right outside of Harold Frank Hall (our ECE building) to take a walk on the beach. In freshman year, I even had a sunrise ocean view right from my dorm room window in Anacapa. The students and faculty at UCSB are happy and kind. UCSB is truly one of the most close knit and caring communities that I have been a part of.
  • CE Program: The professors are passionate, knowledgeable, and always willing to dedicate extra time and resources towards ensuring that students understand the material and succeed. One of my fondest memories in college was after I had failed a midterm, the professor met with me to walk through all my answers and even told me that some of my solutions were brilliant. His encouragement and efforts helped me ace the class in the end. The ECE and CS advisors also have great mailing lists where they send out information about research opportunities and programs, scholarships that students can apply for, special electives that are being offered, and activities that might interest the ECE students.
  • Santa Barbara: I like that Santa Barbara is conveniently located a little over an hour away from LA because it’s nice to live in a quieter city, but have the option to visit LA over the weekends or to travel through the LAX airport. Santa Barbara has many outdoor activities such as hiking trails, surfing, camping, paddle boarding, etc. There are even organized student groups that take skiing trips, surfing lessons, hiking trips, etc.

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why Computer Engineering?: My original plan was to major in Biology and apply to medical school, but I didn’t enjoy AP Biology (during junior year in high school) at all. When admissions season rolled around in fall of senior year of high school, I had been enrolled in APCS for a few weeks, so on a whim, I applied as a computer engineering major to half the schools and chemical engineering major at the other half. As the year went on, I ended up really enjoying learning how to program (and ended up really not liking chemistry) so I finalized my decision to major in CE.
  • Why UCSB?: The first time I visited UCSB was during Spring Insight, a weekend in April where admitted applicants are invited to explore the school. I loved the beautiful campus and met so many great people. We also split up into groups by major. I learned more about the CE program , toured the labs, and received a demonstration of various student projects. The main things that attracted me to the UCSB program were the small CE class sizes (and small College of Engineering in general - it felt like students got very individualized attention), as well as hearing about all the electives that were offered. One of the professors even spoke about how UCSB and the Santa Barbara area in general has a great entrepreneurship culture and how many students go on to start their own businesses.
  • How did you hear about UCSB's Computer Engineering program?: The first time I had heard of the term computer engineering is when I was applying to colleges. I looked up the difference between computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering, and chose to apply for the computer engineering major because it seemed like a good mix between hardware and software and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet. The decision ended up working out perfectly.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice on applying to UCSB: Students – It’s a lot easier to transfer out of the College of Engineering than it is to transfer in. Once you are in the College of Engineering, it is easier to transfer between majors (especially since most of the lower division requirements are the same). If you think you might be interested in an engineering degree, I would recommend applying to the College of Engineering. Look through the curriculum, electives, clubs, and activities, and potentially schedule a visit to campus. It’s important to choose a school that will be a good fit for you and offer the specific courses or research opportunities that you are looking for.
    Parents – I was the first in my family to apply for college in the United States so it definitely involved a lot of learning and challenges. My parents were great at helping me out by learning as much as they could about the process and being there with me every step of the way. Applying to college seemed like an overwhelming task to me, so having my parents for support and encouragement helped me manage the large amount of work that college applications involve. I was very grateful that my parents were supportive of my decisions and didn’t pressure me to choose a certain major or field.
  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: A computer engineering degree allows you to do anything that you can do with either an electrical engineering degree or a computer science degree based on the upper division electives and sequences you choose. While you might have the option to work in software engineering as a CS major or electrical engineering as an EE major, the CE degree allows you to explore and choose from both sides of the field, as well as the intersection of the two (intersectional technologies such as embedded systems, computer architecture, VLSI, etc.) It allows the flexibility to first explore all three of these fields, and then choose which pathway(s) you’d want to explore further, making it a great option for further academic education, since you would be capable to apply for any of the three (EE, CS, or CE) as a graduate major.

The Curriculum:

  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering?: I think the biggest benefit of the program is that you have a much broader range of elective choices when completing your upper division major. Throughout the first two years, you develop a strong foundation in both software and hardware fundamentals, which gives you a competitive edge and enhances your holistic understanding of how and why computers work. I am personally glad that I chose computer engineering because it took away a lot of the abstraction that comes with just learning computer science or electrical engineering. For example, instead of only learning how to code, I now understand how the code that I write is actually compiled into assembly language and processed at the hardware register level. You can also decide to specialize in EE or CS later on if you decide to do so. The program offers many sequences and elective choices. I personally chose sequences and electives that leaned towards software development: distributed systems (CS 176A and CS 171) and embedded systems (ECE 153A/B) were my two sequences. However, there are also many students that decided to take the control systems or signal processing sequences (more EE based).
  • What have you learned that has surprised you so far?: I’ve been most surprised by learning in great depth how a computer works. Before coming to college, I thought that majoring in computer engineering would just teach me how to program, but after taking classes such as OS and computer architecture, I felt as though I could look at a phone or a computer and for the first time, appreciate the full extent of how much innovation went into developing the things that we are surrounded by every day.
  • What has your experience been like taking the Math and Physics core classes? The physics series included some of my favorite classes at UCSB. I loved studying the material and since I had never taken an in-depth physics class like this before, I feel like it opened up a whole new way of understanding how the world worked. There were so many times we would learn about a new physics concept and I would be blown away at how applicable and observable the concepts were. My advice for taking any physics/math core classes (and engineering classes in general) is to quickly learn what works best for you (learn how to learn in a way that works for you). For me, reading the textbook and taking the time to understand the concepts was key. I didn’t spend as much time doing the homework as I spent watching several videos about any given topic and really drilling down into why something was the way that it was. To me, this was much more valuable than trying to memorize the equations or skimming over lecture slides and doing practice problems, because as soon as I understood the concepts, I could apply it to any problem with ease.
  • What was / is your most challenging but rewarding course? My most challenging but rewarding course was CS 170 - Operating Systems. We had four large labs with a final goal of having written the code for our own simplified operating system (i.e. we ended up programming a simple OS from scratch). Time management was extremely important for this class - the labs would be assigned a few weeks in advance but each one ended up taking hours and hours of work. I spent a lot of time working in CSIL that quarter, and made sure to start the labs early and reach out for help when needed. It was also challenging because each new lab built on the previous labs so it was important to complete each assignment on time before moving on. It was extremely rewarding to run our functioning OS at the end of the quarter, test it with various commands, and see how the functionality of our OS was similar to that of Linux.
  • If applicable, talk about your Capstone (189A/B/C) experience so far: Capstone is a yearlong computer engineering sequence taken during senior year in which you work with a group to complete a final project, usually involving interfacing various hardware and software components. It is a cumulative experience that takes advantage of all the skills you have learned over the previous three years and gives you a chance to apply them towards the comprehensive goal of developing a real product. I think it provides a great chance for students to increase their team-working and problem solving abilities. Students need to engineer creative solutions and overcome obstacles while staying within time and budget constraints, a situation that is highly encountered in industry.
  • Have you done an internship? I’ve completed two internships during my undergraduate education. My first internship was the summer after sophomore year at Google in Mountain View as an Engineering Practicum Intern. I programmed across the full stack to implement a feature which summarized product reviews on the Google Express website. My second internship was the summer after junior year at Google New York on the Ads Opportunities team as a Software Engineering Intern. I again programmed across the full stack to surface a new view on the Ads Opportunities platform. I had a great experience during both of my internships, which helped me to grow as a developer and apply the knowledge I had learned in school to a real world setting.
  • Have you had any on-campus research opportunities at UCSB? I didn’t participate in an on-campus research program, but reached out to a professor and independently participated in a biology research lab during freshmen (I wrote computational programs to help process large quantities of gene expression data). In general, I feel that professors are eager to have undergraduate researchers in their lab and there are many research programs available which match interested students to professors/research labs.

Student Life:

  • What is campus life like for Computer Engineering students? There are always students working at CSIL (the CS/ECE computer lab) so it is nice to be able to access a space to collaborate with peers and get work done. I think that the CE class is small enough that everyone becomes close friends as the years pass, so your fellow classmates are very helpful, open, and welcoming. A part of the campus that I felt set UCSB apart from other schools is that our library is open 24/7. This was important to me because it gave me a place to go when I needed to focus and get work done, regardless of the time of day.
  • What is the social scene like for CE students? I would describe the social scene at UCSB as very versatile. IV is a geographically small community, and due to the compacted space, I think UCSB students are able to socialize at a much greater extent (when I visited friends at other college campuses, everyone lived in a more spread out and isolated manner). I think UCSB is like any other college in that it has many options such as parties, outdoor activities, free movie nights and comedy shows, etc. As a CE student, I sometimes felt as if I had a bit more homework or had to spend more time in lab compared to friends in other majors, so it’s important to be able to manage your time well and not be discouraged by needing to spend some extra time studying.

The Future:

  • What are your plans after graduation?: I plan to go into industry in the software engineering field (specifically the Google NY Ads team). My experiences as an intern definitely influenced my decision. For me, it was satisfying to learn various new technologies independently and be able to apply what I learned towards the development of a tangible product. I am, however, strongly considering the possibility of returning to academia after a few years of working in industry. In the meantime, I’d like to gain more insight on the state of different fields within the software engineering industry and on which pathway interests me the most.

Sang Min (Joshua) Oh – Senior Year Computer Engineering Majorphoto of sang min oh

Photo of sang min in the lab

About Sang Min Oh:

  • Hometown: Fullerton, CA
  • Favorite Class: CS 171 (Distributed Systems), ECE 154B (Advanced Computer Architecture), and ECE 255B (VLSI Design Validation)
  • Organizations: Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Last Book Read: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

  • Hobbies: 1) doing things with friends such as playing sports, watching shows/videos, and going on late-night food runs, 2) playing the piano and practicing/learning how to play other instruments and 3) playing video games

Sang Min's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: Dance Gavin Dance
  • TV Show: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Movie: 베테랑 (Veteran)
  • Book / Author: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Sport: soccer, basketball, badminton and table tennis
  • Activity: rock climbing
  • Geeky Possession: Ghost Cube and V-Cube 6

High School Experience:

  • Favorite class: AP Physics C was very fun because of the big projects I had to do. The project that was the most interesting for me was our “Car Project” in which I designed and built a small battery-powered car from scratch. I had to put a lot of time into this project because the grading criteria included accuracy in braking after traveling x feet and correct prediction of how long my car would take to travel that distance. In addition, the material was interesting since we learned how to derive (using material learned in AP Calculus BC and some multivariable calculus that we were taught on the side) and explain all of the physical laws instead of just being forced to memorize equations (like in AP Physics B). I also really liked the AP/IB Computer Science courses. This was my introduction into programming and I really loved the labs and writing various programs to see what I could do. A large part of what made these classes interesting was that my teachers would constantly give us challenging projects and programming assignments that we would have to figure out for ourselves. Whether it was programming a simple game or writing a program that calculated the n-th prime number within a given amount of time, I also had to spend a lot of time learning some things that weren’t covered in class due to time constraints. It was very rewarding in the end to finally see my programs pass 100% of the tests.
  • Share what your college search was like: I had solidified the major that I wanted to pursue just before my senior year of high school started. Because of this, I was able to quickly narrow down the list of colleges where I wanted to apply. An internship over the summer helped push me towards pursuing ECE.

Preparation for College:

  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: I think AP Calculus BC (and some linear algebra and multi-variable calculus), AP Chemistry, and AP Physics C helped me prepare the most. A lot of the foundations of engineering are based in the physical sciences and calculus is an essential tool for solving complex problems in these fields. I think it is very important to learn these materials as you get deeper into the field of engineering since you will continue to build upon these foundations by being more exposed to advanced topics .
  • Are there any classes that you suggest EE students take before entering UCSB?: I would say that CE students must take AP Computer Science or some other class that offers programming. The CE curriculum requires many CS courses, so knowing how to program will be a big advantage for you. In addition, CEs are given the flexibility to take more classes on the CS side and programming is a very large part of these classes since you will be required to do projects that require heavy amounts of coding.
  • Any additional experiences that you would like to share with students to help them prepare for college?: My parents did not college in the US and neither are engineers, so I was on my own when it came to searching for colleges and programs. I had a lot of questions because it is really hard to find genuine responses from posts on the Internet. I found that it helps a lot to sit down and talk with people who have already gone through college and/or have majored in the major of your choice. These discussions led me to many insights and helped me with a lot of my decisions for my academic career. I also attended several hackathons during my senior year of high school. It was definitely hard to compete with people who had a lot more experience than I do, but I think that the experience was valuable because I had a chance to talk with people from industry and startups.

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: UCSB has such a nice campus and the weather here is amazing. Apart from the rainy days in the winter, the weather is usually pretty clear and sunny with a cool breeze. Also, UCSB is on the bluffs above the beach and you can access the beach from several locations on campus. There are bike paths all over, so it does not take very long to get from one end of the campus to the other. If time isn’t an issue, walking from one end of the campus to the other takes approximately 10-15 minutes. There are also many nearby places to get food (in the school, in Isla Vista, or places like the Camino Real Marketplace, which is a 5 minute drive from school).

    UCSB offers many other resources that students can take advantage of. To list some examples, the University Center (UCen) has a bookstore where students can buy all of their school supplies and required textbooks. The Recreation Center (Rec Cen) has a standard gym, a swimming pool, several courts (for basketball, volleyball, and more), and even a rock-climbing wall. Students are also able to try out new things like surfing, rock climbing, backpacking, and more through the Adventure Program. The library is available for students to use 24/7 and students are able to book study rooms.

  • CE Program: The CE program offers many classes that span a wide range of topics. Aside from the required pre-requisite classes, students are allowed to design their own schedule and take classes that interest them. This gives students a lot of flexibility in exploring different topics and determining what they really want to specialize in. All of the ECE (and CS) professors that I've had are very good at instruction and care about students doing well in their classes. The professors always make themselves available during office hours or scheduled appointments. One thing I really like is the fact that the professors are very open to talking with students about many things other than course materials. You can ask professors about things, such as research and advice for future plans, and they will give you an honest answer. The Teaching Assistants (TA) for the courses are also very accessible and helpful. In addition, the ECE department has a very good and friendly advising staff. The ECE staff is great at helping you stay on track with your studies and they will do whatever they can in order to help you.

    The ECE department is also very good because there are many resources that are available for students to use. The lab computers have the necessary software that allows students to work on their assignments without having to pay large amounts of money to buy the software. There is also an ECE shop that sells electronic parts needed for certain ECE classes, which is convenient because students don’t have time to find and buy everything they need for a project. The IEEE club is a good resource for students who need help with their introductory ECE courses and there is tutoring available from The Engineering Honor Society (Tau Beta Pi) or UCSB's Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS).

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why did you select UCSB's Computer Engineering program?: During my senior year, my primary interest was E/M from physics and I liked the (EE) Electrical Engineering internship that I had done over the summer, so I initially selected EE. After the first few quarters at UCSB, my interests started shifting more towards CS, but I did not want to completely leave EE behind. Because of this, I changed my major from EE to Computer Engineering (CE) before the spring quarter of sophomore year. 
  • Why did you select Computer Engineering as a major?: I really liked how much flexibility I had in choosing my classes. Because this major is a mix between CS and EE, I can choose how much focus I want to place on both software and hardware. In addition, I think it is important to be knowledgeable in both software and hardware because there is such a big co-dependence between software and hardware in many aspects of technology. Also, there is a wider selection of electives to choose from during your junior and senior years.
  • How did you hear about UCSB's Computer Engineering Program?: I learned about the CE program in greater detail during my first quarters here. During my freshman year, I was still really unsure of what options I had and what I wanted to focus in, so I talked to a lot of people including my advisor, upper-classmen CE students, TAs and graduate students, and also some people who came to represent their companies at the SBHacks hackathon. Through this, I had a better understanding of what the CE program had to offer and I realized that the CE program fit my interests better than the EE program.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice on applying to UCSB: Students: You should really spend some time and research the programs to see what UCSB has to offer. There is a lot of information that you can find online including: a list of courses that are offered and the requirements for each major; information on various student organizations that exist on campus and previous work that they have done; and profiles of the professors and their field of research. Before making your decision, it is very important to make sure that UCSB has a program that aligns with your interests since you will be working on your degree for four years. If you are interested in pursuing research, you should look search to see whether there are professors who are doing research in your field of interest. If you are interested in doing an internship, you should see if there are companies or startups near UCSB that interest you.
    Parents: If your child wants to apply to UCSB, please wholeheartedly support their decision. I think one of the things that helped motivate me the most (while applying and after getting accepted) was knowing that my parents fully respected and supported my decisions. An important part of education is the environment in which your child will be studying – if your child is studying at a college that he/she does not like being at, it will be a lot harder for them to focus and have a good time while attending college. As always, communication is key, so talk to your child about college applications. It is important to know about child’s thoughts as well – nothing good can really come out of pushing your child to do something that they are not interested in.
  • Looking back, what do you think you would have wanted your parents to know about UCSB Computer Engineering?: I think I would have wanted them to know that the direction that technology is advancing in, just how important the field of CE really is. As a cross between CS and EE, there is so much flexibility in selecting a focus and there is so much work that can be done. Also, I think it would have been nice for my parents to understand what you can really do with CE, especially regarding knowledge about the various applications and the different sub-fields that exist within each topic.

    In addition, I am the first in my family to attend a college in the US, so my parents did not really know about the entire college application process and the preparation – notably the various tests and the requirements that must be fulfilled during high school. I am very thankful that my parents trusted me to do everything on my own, but I also think it would have been nice if my parents really knew about the entire application process.

  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: Computer Engineering is a cross between software and hardware, so there is a wide range of topics that you can work on. If you are more interested in the software-side, you can work on more theoretical topics such as algorithms analysis, scientific computing, and software optimization. If you are more interested in the hardware-side, you can work on VLSI systems or high-performance circuits design and validation. A lot of technology has a software-hardware codependence, so there are also many applications that require you to know about both. Some of these applications include:
    • Computer Architecture: focuses on the organization and implementation of computer systems while ensuring correct functionality. This involves designing computer systems for different applications since different applications have different characteristics, which means that one architecture might not be the most efficient for one application while it is the most efficient for another.
    • Distributed Systems and Networking: focuses on applications that have multiple computers working together to solve one problem and the problems that occur with fast, efficient, and correct communication between these computers.
    • Machine Intelligence: focuses on various topics including speech recognition, imagine processing, and machine learning in the context of signal processing.

There are so many other areas that aren’t listed, and it is hard to really form a comprehensive list because there is so much overlap between topics in Computer Engineering, but I hope this is enough to give you an insight into how much you can really do with a Computer Engineering degree.

The Curriculum:

  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering?: The main benefit of the CE program is the ability to freely take courses in either CS or EE. CE students design a part of their curriculum by selecting which electives they want to take in their junior and senior year. The availability of so many classes gives you the ability to fine-tune your curriculum in accordance with your interests. In addition, you are free to explore and take different classes. You might even find a new topic that interests you.

  • What has your experience been like taking the Math and Physics core classes? I have not taken Math classes at UCSB because I have taken equivalent courses (AP Calculus BC and Math 250A/B at CSUF) during my junior and senior years of high school. If you can, you should try to take equivalent classes (first make sure that credit is transferable) because this will save you 2 years of taking math classes at UCSB. Doing this will give you an advantage in other classes such as Physics or the infamous Circuits, Devices, & Systems (ECE 10A/B/C) series.

    I took both AP Physics B and AP Physics C in high school, so the core Physics classes at UCSB were not very interesting because it was basically a repeat of the same material. However, I thought Physics 5 (only required for EEs, but I still recommend it, especially since CEs do require a math/science elective) was very interesting because it covered fundamentals of several topics in modern physics including the theory of relativity, wave-particle duality, harmonic oscillators and potential wells, nuclear physics, and particle physics. You cannot get credit for the engineers’ Physics series through the AP Physics tests, so if you want an even bigger challenge, you can take the physics series that is required for the Physics majors (which is significantly harder). Either way, exposure to Physics in high school will give you an advantage in your core Physics classes at UCSB.

  • What was / is your most challenging but rewarding course? My most challenging course was ECE 154B (Advanced Computer Architecture). In this class, we used the hardware description language Verilog in order to build and simulate a pipelined processor. We started out with writing code for a standard 5-stage pipelined processor. Gradually, we incorporated topics that we learned in class in order to improve our processor. Notably, we modified our original processor to include a cache and a branch predictor. Last, we had to modify our processor to make it superscalar so it could run two instructions in parallel instead of just one. In my opinion, it was very interesting to continually build upon our previous work and see how much could change by incorporating a new piece of hardware. I found this class especially rewarding because the final product was a fully functional processor that we designed from scratch after countless hours in the computer lab and multiple sleepless nights in the library. In addition, the class size is very small, which means that discussion was heavily encouraged in class. I think this also contributed to taking away important insights from the class.

  • Tell us about your Capstone (189A/B) experience so far: I have not started the Capstone sequence yet, but my friends and I have formed a team and have thrown around possible project ideas. We have also talked to several professors to get their input. There is still nothing set in stone yet, but we have intentions to meet and solidify an idea so that we can get to work right away when the Fall quarter begins.

  • Are there any specific classes that you are looking forward to?: I am looking forward to Computer Security (CS 177) because it is a topic that I’ve always been interested in. There are many ways to enforce security, but it is interesting to learn just how safe a certain method might actually be. In addition, I have seen documentation of many kinds of attacks on computer systems, and I want to learn more about these attacks – especially in how they work and the ways they can be prevented.

  • What area do you want to specialize in?: To give an honest answer, I am still not sure, but I am in the process of narrowing down my interests. Junior year was when I really started to get into the electives and see what I could do with Computer Engineering. I have a few interests but not a specific area that I want to specialize in. One area that I have been really interested in is distributed systems. After taking Distributed Systems (CS 171) this past spring, I found that I really liked learning about how computers work on one task and how important it is to have good communication between the computers. I am also drawn to this area because I have been interested in several distributed applications such as torrenting and blockchain technology. Closely related areas include Computer Networking (communication between the computers in the distributed network) and Computer Security (reliability and prevention of possible malicious computer nodes). Another area that I am interested in is Computer Architecture because I really like studying how the characteristics of an application define how the computer system must be organized for the greatest efficiency, greatest performance, lowest cost, etc. I currently have the most experience in this area because of research I have completed.

  • Have you had any on-campus research opportunities at UCSB? I do have experience with on-campus research, but it was not through a program. I have been doing undergraduate research since the summer after my sophomore year in Professor Xie’s Scalable Energy-efficient Architecture Lab. My primary focus in the lab is in Computer Architecture, but I am interested in trying research in different areas as well. I really like doing research because it is a good complement to the work I’ve been doing for school – I can build upon the fundamentals that I learned in class, but I still have to read and study a lot in order to keep up with current technological trends. In addition, you get to talk to others who work in the lab (including MS and PhD students) about their projects and learn a lot more than you would learn in class.

  • Have you done an internship? I did an internship at Parker Aerospace in Irvine, CA during the summer before my senior year of high school. This internship was focused on Electrical Engineering and my main job was to write a low-level script that would read/analyze signals for the automation of testing an airplane motor. This was one of my first exposures to electrical engineering, and it had a big impact on me selecting my major. It was also my first time working in a professional environment, so it was also an insight into work culture and how I can be expected to behave and interact with co-workers when I graduate and get an actual job. It was also an opportunity to get to know a lot of the co-workers and talk to them about their work and college.

Sang Min's Off-campus Life:

What is campus life like for Computer Engineering students? A lot of time is spent working on core classes and electives. Often, you may find yourself staying late at the computer labs or at the library working on a project or an assignment. The CE class is relatively small compared to other majors, so you will continue to collaborate with the same CE friends that you made during your freshman and sophomore years. Everyone is very nice, so although it may be tiring, it is very fun staying up late helping each other out and getting through challenges together.

What is the social scene on campus like for CE students? It really isn’t much different from other students at UCSB. You will be busy with work and projects, but if you manage your time well, you can always find time to have fun or meet new people. Particularly for CE students, there are many talks that are offered throughout the quarter and there are many student engineering student organizations that you can attend to meet new people who share your interests. Notably, I have been a part of IEEE since my freshman year and I met all of my close friends through it.

Describe your housing experience: I lived in the on-campus dorms (Santa Cruz) during my freshman year. To be honest, I didn’t like my housing situation during my freshman year – most of the people on my floor did not share my interests and most of them weren’t CEs, so I didn’t have much to talk about with others. However, I concede that I really didn’t make much of an effort to get to know other students on my floor. In the end, you get what you make of it – try to find a floor that aligns with your interests and if you put in the effort to make your freshman year fun, then it will be great. All of the basics are taken care of: you have access to study/recreation rooms in the dorms, there is an amazing janitorial staff that keeps the dorms clean, and you have a dining common that is right next door.

Starting my sophomore year, I found an apartment in IV, moved in with some of my close friends, and had (and still am having) a blast. IV has a lot of stores and places to eat, so getting food isn’t a problem. However, the food in IV really isn’t cheap, so I really recommend making your own meals (try to find a friend with a Costco membership since there is one 2 miles from IV). A lot of the apartments get taken near the start of Winter quarter, so if you are looking to move out to IV, you should quickly decide on where to live and who to live with. You should also do your research before deciding on an apartment: is it close to campus, is the rent OK for you, is the apartment spacious enough (if you are interested in an apartment, you can try asking the current tenants if you can take a quick peek), is it loud at night, etc. I haven’t really explored other options such as the university-owned apartments or the housing co-ops, so I cannot say much about them, but you should also consider these other options before making your decision.

The Future:

What are your plans/aspirations after graduation?: I was accepted into the 5-year BS/MS program, so I will stay a 5th year to receive my Master's Degree in Computer Engineering. I have no set plan for what I will do after receiving my Master's Degree, but I am thinking of several options. I am thinking of continuing my education to pursue a PhD. If I do so, I would actually like to go to another university for a change of environment (although it will be hard to say goodbye to the near-perfect weather of Santa Barbara) and also to expand my network and meet new people. I am not sure whether I want to pursue a PhD directly after receiving my M.S. degree, so I am considering going into industry to work for a few years and save money while learning more about technological trends. I am really enjoying doing my undergraduate research, so I want to aim for research-related work after receiving a PhD. For now, my end goal is to get a career in research and development.

Juan Reyes – Junior Computer Engineering Majorphoto of juan reyes in the lab

Photo of Juan Reyes

About Juan:

  • Hometown: Madera, California
  • Favorite Class: Introduction to Digital Image and Video Processing (ECE 178)
  • Organizations: Los Ingenieros
  • Last Book Read: 1984 by George Orwell
  • Hobbies: Gaming, drawing, basketball with the homies


Juan's Favorites:

  • Band / Performer: Kendrick Lamar
  • TV Show: Gotham
  • Movie: The Green Mile
  • Book: The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Activity: Playing video games
  • Geeky Possession: Pokémon cards
  • Interesting Aside About You: I placed 1st in a welding competition

High School Experience:

  • Favorite class: Calculus was my favorite class – the material was interesting and it was exciting to learn about some of its applications. My teacher made the class interesting as he showed a passion for it and didnít seem like it was just another job.
  • High school mentor?: My mentor was my welding instructor because he would share his experiences about college and industry for his field. It helped me learn about the possibilities it presented for him and how they could be applied to my situation that could in turn help me understand my opportunities.
  • Share what your college search was like: During high school I was not planning to attend college so my search was rather short. However, I did have an idea of what I wanted to study so I did some research and UCSB interested me.

Preparation for College:

  • What prepared you the most to study engineering in college?: Unfortunately, my high school lacked opportunities for anything engineering related. Therefore, I did not do much related to engineering in high school, but I attempted to learn about it during my free time.
  • Are there any classes that you suggest EE students take before entering UCSB?: Computer Science courses since there are many resources available online. It would help a lot for the Introduction to Computer Science (CMPSC 8) since for some people, given the fast pace of a college life, it can sometimes be difficult to grasp.

Favorite Things About:

  • UCSB: The different opportunities for new experiences, whether it is academically through research and projects or socially through the clubs and organizations. There is always something new to experience which leads to meeting great people with similar interests.
  • CE Program: The number of courses available and the professors that make the courses challenging and interesting. Plus the TAs are some of the most chill people to get to know.
  • Santa Barbara: It is a nice city with some amazing views and there are plenty of things to do. It is a great place to hang out with friends and family.

Why CE / UCSB?:

  • Why Computer Engineering?: During high school, I got into android development and it intrigued me to the point where I wanted to develop parts of it myself. I was also interested in building my own gaming PC, so I would spend hours after school watching videos and reading articles about PC hardware. I wanted a major that would incorporate both elements.
  • Why UCSB?: I choose UCSB’s CE program because it focused on the two main areas of study I was interested in – Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.
  • How did you hear about UCSB's Computer Engineering program?: I heard about it when researching programs that offered an emphasize on software and hardware engineering.

Advice to students/parents about UCSB and CE:

  • Advice on applying to UCSB:
    Students: Review course offerings to see if there are any subjects that might spark your interest. Also, take a look at clubs and organizations that you might enjoy since they a great place to start meeting people with similar interests. And finally, consider the location of the school and its surrounding areas to ensure that you’ll enjoy the atmosphere and environment.
    Parents: I suggest being supportive of your child’s decisions. Keep up with their education while not being too involved in their social life since college is their first transition into a more independent lifestyle.
  • Looking back, what do you think you would have wanted your parents to know about UCSB Computer Engineering?: Being a first-generation college student, my parents were not well informed about college. However, I would have liked for them to know more about what a college education has to offer, especially within the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering disciplines.
  • Explain to students and parents what you can do with a computer engineering degree: There are countless opportunities to be had with a Computer Engineering degree. Some of them derive from the courses you take, the projects you work on and the research you do and can be gained from a career, research, or academia. Also, to help you realize what you enjoy the most, it is important to take advantage of the opportunities at UCSB.

The Curriculum:

  • What are the benefits of a program that is a cross between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering?: A cross between EE and CS is beneficial as it presents more opportunities in areas within the software and hardware aspects of engineering. CE bridges understanding between the two subjects that creates even more possibilities.
  • What has your experience been like taking the Math and Physics core classes?: I have really enjoyed most of the math and physics courses, although they have been difficult. I had very little physics knowledge before college so it was more difficult to learn it during college but it is not impossible. You just have to put the work in, study the material and utilize office hours.
  • What was your most challenging but rewarding course?: I found the Circuits, Devices & Systems series (ECE 10A/B/C) the most challenging. The series was my first introduction to hardware and was difficult for me since the series starts off strong. What I found most helpful was working and studying with other students and receiving help from the TAs and professors.
  • What area do you want to specialize in?: I have not exactly decided on what I want to specialize in but I have a few ideas. I hope to refine my interests as I take more courses — right now I am thinking about something involving multimedia or robotics.

Juan's Off-campus Life:

  • What is campus life like for Computer Engineering students?: I would say that campus life for CE students is filled with opportunities. There are always seminars, company info sessions and events, which often include free food, hosted by the UCSB clubs and organizations, .
  • What is the social scene like for CE students?: The social scene is not that much different from others but the biggest difference is that there will be hours and hours dedicated to studying or working on assignments. With good time management, students can increase their free time.
  • Describe your housing situation: For your first year, I suggest trying to live on a floor that aligns with your interests. Since you will be living and spending most of your time there, it really makes all the difference to get along and knowing others that live there.

The Future:

  • Do you plan to go into graduate school or industry?: I am leaning towards entering industry in something that involves hardware or multimedia and am researching companies in the Silicon Valley or at least California.

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.