So last year, I touched on what my major meant to me in this post. As a junior now, I feel like I have a much better grip on electrical engineering as an academic discipline, and what part of EE interests me. At USC, an EE major has 4 choices or “quadrants” of specialties to choose from after taking an introduction to each area as well as some other general EE courses. A student completes those general courses, two specialty courses in two quadrants, and finally 3 elective courses from one sub-area within that quadrant. The four areas to choose from are computer engineering, electromagnetics, signals and systems, and circuits. Each of those areas then has further specialties, such as robotics and controls, or networks, or integrated circuits. Generally, students really interested in programming, computers, and digital logic go the computer engineering route. Students who love math (a lot) might be interested in the math-intensive signals and systems approach (which can also incorporate programming in a robotics specialization). Electromagnetics and Circuits might interest students who typically enjoy physics. However, many people are attracted to their quadrant for various reasons. I, for example, am choosing to go into the circuits quadrant with electronic circuits because I think at some point I will work for a semiconductor company as an engineer and hopefully at some point a patent attorney. I want to take a VLSI design course and familiarize myself with as many different types of circuits as possible. In my two internships at Qualcomm, talking to patent attorneys made me realize that a large portion of patent applications and technologies from the company consisted of some type of circuit and circuit diagrams. Going into this quadrant seemed to be both a practical and interesting choice for me:) I am taking EE338, introduction to semiconductor physics, right now. I think it’s really interesting stuff, and I feel like I am doing well/have found my niche in EE. After being around wafers my whole life (my dad works in industry), it’s a good feeling to finally understand how they are made at the most basic level:)
I think for me, more profound than just a set of classes that gives you some basic skills, EE (like most other engineering majors) teaches you how to think critically and solve problems. Personally, two and a half years into the program, I see tremendous growth in myself and it’s incredibly rewarding. I came into college thinking I wanted to be a broadcast journalist at some point. However, I didn’t merely want to study broadcast journalism. I wanted to take up an area of study that would equip me with entirely new skills and essentially make me smarter. I’m in EE330 right now, an electromagnetics class, and a lot of the information we are covering now is stuff I had to do in my E&M semester of physics. I definitely struggled with concepts like Gauss’s Law the first time I had to deal with them in classes. I see so much improvement in my understanding of these concepts and my ability to problem solve.
Furthermore, aside from just classes and the academia, I have come to love my peers and the faculty in electrical engineering. I rarely do an assignment alone, so it’s a good thing to like the people around me:) Early on when I was questioning my ability to complete the major, the people were what kept me in it. They continue to do so! I am so amazed by the things they involve themselves in, and they constantly inspire me with their goals and dreams. It’s an environment and peer group I can’t imagine trading for anything. I am so excited by the possibilities that EE as a whole is able to provide me. I think all doors are open to me, and I am excited to finish my degree and see how I can put it to work!