Electrical Engineering in My Own Words!

leah Viterbi Class Leave a Comment

When you’re in college, people always ask you what your major is. And especially in engineering — which is a lot of work, not going to lie — your major defines a lot of what you spend your time doing. So it’s a good thing that I love Electrical Engineering, since I spend a lot of time doing it! Everyone is involved in different activities, so everyone’s experience is different, but I’ll tell you a a little about my experience with Electrical Engineering!

I spend my time on three different activities in Electrical Engineering: classes, research, and student organizations. This semester I’m taking three Electrical Engineering classes, doing research in the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, and actively participating in organizations like SC Underwater Robotics and Eta Kappa Nu, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Honors Society.

I’ll start with classes. Because Electrical Engineering is such a broad field, you choose one of four emphases, which determines what classes you take during your Junior and Senior years. The emphases are broken down into four major categories: Communication, Control, and Signal Processing, Computer Engineering, Electromagnetics and Solid State, and Electronic Devices and Circuits. Then within these areas there are specific emphases as well. My emphasis is Controls and Robotics in the Communication, Control, and Signal Processing area.

You start by taking broad classes that give you a background in a bunch of different areas including electromagnetics, computer science, digital and analog circuits, signal processing, and other areas. This is great because it helps you find what you are most interested in, and then allows you to later specialize in that. Electrical Engineering also gives you a very strong basis in physics and mathematics, since Electrical Engineers have to take 3 physics classes and 5 math classes — the most out of all the engineering majors.

Electrical Engineers definitely work hard, but they then have knowledge that can be applied to almost every field, whether it’s medical devices, telecommunications, robotics, computers, and countless others. There are tons of companies looking to hire Electrical Engineers! Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Cisco, and Qualcomm are just a few of the companies that I have met industry reps from who were looking to hire Electrical Engineers.This summer I’ll be working at the Boeing Company, a job I got an interview for through Viterbi. I got to attend a hiring event in Seattle and tour their facilities and see the mock-ups of all the fanciest models of the planes!

Relaxing in the mock-up of a super fancy Dreamliner!

Okay, next up: Research. There is a ton of exciting research going on in the Electrical Engineering Department at USC in all of the emphases that I listed. And if you are proactive about reading about the research and approach the Professor in charge with enthusiasm and knowledge about their project, it has been my experience that they are happy to bring you on board. The research lab I am involved in is the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, and I really enjoy being able to apply the work I do in class to research. I’m working on interpreting data from a motion capture database to create a framework for emotional communication in artificial intelligence.

Image from the Motion Capture Database that I use in my research with SAIL

And finally: student organizations! I love being involved in things outside of class. I especially love being able to use Electrical Engineering on a design team (SC Underwater Robotics). I get to actually see a project through from start to finish. I design the schematic for a circuit board, pick out the parts I want, lay it out, and put it together. It’s really cool to get hands-on experience with Electrical Engineering.

Incomplete placement of parts for the new Power Board!

Okay, I know this is a super long blog, but it’s just because I have so much to say about Electrical Engineering! If you have any questions, feel free to email viterbi.student@usc.edu and I’d love to answer them!

Want to learn more? Here's the best place to ask: