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Students take an ECE expedition to Silicon Valley

Students were welcomed at Exponent, Cisco, 8x8, ARM, KLS-Tencor, Synaptics, and Cavium.| Short Read
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IMAGE:  Students attending ECE's Expedition to the Bay Area of California with alumnus Karen Fireman, Prof. Yogesh Gianchandani, and Khalil Najaf, Peter & Evelyn Fuss Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering

ECE brought 18 students to San Jose on Sunday, February 26 for the second ECE Expedition. The students, ranging from freshman to doctoral level, spent three days of their spring break learning from professionals in their field and getting a firsthand look at where their degree could take them after graduation.

Envisioned by the ECE Advisory Council, the ECE Expeditions program was created to expose students to the many different types of jobs and companies available to them in electrical and computer engineering. The expeditions also allow students to learn about different business and company atmospheres. This trip gave students an inside look at seven tech companies:  Exponent, Cisco Systems, 8×8, ARM, KLA-Tencor, Synaptics and Cavium – most founded or run by ECE alumni.

Each visit was unique, but all featured a mixture of company presentations, panels with current ECE engineers, lab tours and product demos.  All of the organizations were excited to host the students, and the students were thrilled to be there.

“My favorite part was seeing different parts of CE/EE that I had no idea existed,” says Blake Babbs, a junior on the trip. “I liked that we didn’t visit all huge companies and instead hit smaller companies with products or offerings I had never heard of.”

In addition to the behind-the-scenes access, the expedition also offered students a valuable chance to network with working engineers. With several of the companies founded or led by ECE alumni, students were thrilled to hear success stories from their very own program.

  • Student interacting with touch screen
  • Group photo
  • Students on bus
  • Student writing
  • Students posing with posters
  • Taking a test drive
  • Man using a laptop
  • Testing a steering wheel
  • Panel table
  • Man speaking to group
  • Group photo

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“I loved the engaging talk with the KLA-Tencor CEO,” says junior Melinda Kothbauer of ECE alum Rick Wallace. “He was able to give us a lot of insight into the company operations.”

Students also enjoyed their session with ECE alum Sassan Teymouri, who provided an entrepreneurial perspective from his 30 years of work with startup companies. Profs. Khalil Najafi and Yogesh Gianchandani and alum Karen Fireman went along with the group, offering their own advice and having their share of fun on the company tours.

“You could clearly see that the students were excited by the new opportunities they were shown.” says Prof. Najafi, Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of ECE. “They seemed to especially love it when the CEOs and engineers talked about their own experiences. I’m grateful to have an advisory council that cares so much about our students.”

“I loved every part of the program, especially seeing alumni thriving in their domain and listening to their stories in person,” says Master’s student Ke Yu.

For some in attendance, the expedition was also a chance to make closer friends in their major. They gathered for a group dinner on Sunday to get to know each other, and many chose to spend their remaining nights exploring the Bay Area scene together. The students went to Tesla’s dealership, the Intel Museum, and downtown San Jose.

“My favorite part of the trip was building a network from the ECE students that attended!” added Melinda. “I think this was one of the most valuable parts because it will benefit me for a long time.”

Where They Went

Engineering and scientific consulting firm 
Featuring alum Scott Wright (MS PhD EE ’06 ’09), Senior Managing Engineer

Multinational networking, IT, and telecommunications technology company
With assistance from alum Ruba Borno (MS PhD EE ’03 ’08), Vice President, Growth Initiatives and Chief of Staff to CEO

Communications cloud specializing in enterprise and business settings
Featuring alum Vikram Verma (MSE EE ’88), CEO

Microprocessors and other technology across a variety of industries
The Department has long-standing research ties to ARM.

Process control for semiconductor and nanoelectronics industries 
Featuring alum Rick Wallace (BSE EE ’82), CEO

Human interface devices, including biometric sensors and touch controllers 
Featuring alum Rick Bergman (BSE EE ’86), President and CEO

Fabless semiconductor company specializing in network, video, and security processors and systems 
With assistance from alum Syed Ali (MSE EE ’81), CEO and Cofounder

Making it Happen

ECE Expeditions was conceived of by the ECE Advisory Council, a prestigous group of alumni and friends of the department who are committed to ECE’s goal of being a global leader of positive, transformational change across all industries. Current members include:

Syed Ali  (MSE EE ’81)
Frederick (Rick) Bolander (BSE MSE EE ’83 ’85)
Todd Coleman (BSE EE and CE ’00)
Charlotte Decker (BSE MSE CE ’85 ’86; MBA ’91)
Karen Fireman (BSE CE ’80; MBA ’85)
Nancy Gioia (BSE EE ’82)
Edward Maier (BSE ME ’77)
Nino Masnari (BSE MSE PhD EE ‘58, ‘59, ’64)
Babak Parviz (MSE PhD EE ’97 ’01; MS Physics ’01)
Mitchell Rohde (BSE MSE EE ’94 ’96; MSE PhD BME ’97, ’00)
Meera Sampath (PhD EE:S ’95)
Navin Shenoy (BSE EE ’95)
David Tarver (BSE MSE EE ’75 ’76)
Vik Verma (MSE EE ’89)
Dawson Yee (MSE EE ’87)

EnlargeAnn Stals

Ann Stals
“It was great seeing these students bond as a group,” says Ann Stals, ECE’s event planner and primary organizer of the trip. “Seeing their reactions to the wide variety of opportunities that they have as ECE students was extremely rewarding.”







EnlargeTomas Mauricio

Tomás Mauricio
“The amount of alumni they met and the networking they experienced was astronomical,” says Tomás Maruício, an intern who helped organize the trip. “The glow in their eyes was outstanding.”








Group photo
Ann Stals
Tomas Mauricio
Portrait of Catharine June


Catharine June
ECE Communications and Marketing Manager

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

(734) 936-2965

3301 EECS

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