This spring, 169 undergraduates from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) will walk the Commencement stage. We spoke to three of them about defining moments in their Georgia Tech experience, lessons learned, and what the future holds.
Name: Shivani Mehrotra
Major: Electrical Engineering, minors in Engineering and Business through the Denning Technology and Management Program and Biomedical Engineering.
Why did you choose your major? I actually started out my Georgia Tech career as a biomedical engineer, on a pre-med and pre-research track! It was only after volunteering at a hospital, a few BME classes, and several credit hours of research that realized my childhood dream and vision for my future did not quite align. During a summer of self-exploration, I worked as a student assistant for the CREATE-X program, which is housed within the School of ECE and instantly fell in love with hardware development. That summer catapulted me towards strategy, innovation, and hardware product development—I haven't looked back since!
Why did you choose to study at Georgia Tech? I chose Georgia Tech because of its strong reputation in all disciplines of engineering. The opportunities to explore one’s interests in depth were unparalleled to other schools. Plus, Atlanta is such a great city to be in!
What was your favorite class or professor and why? Surprisingly, ECE 3025 Electromagnetics was my favorite class with Dr. Klein and one of the most impactful courses, too. The class was incredibly challenging but Dr. Klein taught the course with engaging lectures and presented the material that transcended traditional classroom material and really made me wonder about the beauty of math and physics interacting in our everyday lives. I still to this day read about electromagnetic phenomena for fun because of that class!
What was your favorite extracurricular activity and why? It’s difficult to choose just one involvement, so I’ll choose two that impacted my life sequentially. Early in my time at Tech, being a peer leader (a resident assistant for first-year Tech students) was one of the most transformative experiences. That role taught me so much about being a student leader, setting boundaries for myself, and served as a creative outlet through event planning. Later in my time here at Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech Student Ambassadors has been my favorite involvement because of the incredible people I met in the organization.
Any standout memories or accomplishments from your time at Georgia Tech? One of my favorite memories has been presenting my research on behalf of the Opportunity Research Scholars (ORS) Program at the annual symposium. I had always hoped to do undergraduate research from the start of my time here at Tech, so to finally be able to and present my team’s poster was one of the best feelings!
What do you plan to do after graduation? I will be joining Texas Instruments in their prestigious FAST Rotation Program on the Technical Sales Track.
How has Georgia Tech prepared you for your future? Georgia Tech has challenged me every step of the way. Every struggle, setback, failure, and success has taught me not only about myself but who I hope to be in the future as well. I feel academically ready to tackle the future but also ready to start my career and really showcase my ability to problem solve. It’s my experience at Georgia Tech that has made me the resilient, creative, and hard-working engineer I am!
What is your advice for future ECE students? I always say take time to explore and pursue your passions unapologetically. In parallel, challenge yourself to try things you may not succeed at because that’s truly where growth happens. Lastly, celebrate the wins and grieve the losses. At Tech, it’s easy to get caught up in your own checklist or be in a perpetual work mode, so it’s important to take time for yourself and really soak in the all the experiences you’re going through!
Name: Gracen Wallace
Major: Computer Engineering
Why did you choose your major? I took computer science in my last year of high school and enjoyed it a lot, but I wanted to learn more about the hardware aspects of computing, so I chose computer engineering to get a mix of both!
Why did you choose to study at Georgia Tech? I am from Georgia, and the appeal of having the Zell Miller scholarship while also getting a degree from one of the top ECE schools in the country was too great to consider going anywhere else. I also wanted to study abroad as well as do undergraduate research, and I knew that I would have many opportunities for both of those at Tech.
What was your favorite class or professor and why? It’s pretty difficult for me to pick only one because I have a couple classes I really enjoyed, but my current favorite would be ECE4180 with Dr. Hamblen. I have probably learned more in that class than pretty much any other class I have taken so far, and I genuinely enjoy watching the lectures and doing the labs. The class has gone really smoothly despite the current pandemic which is really impressive, and the TAs are always super helpful. Dr. Hamblen also explains all the concepts very clearly and adds a lot of real-world examples while talking through the elements of embedded system design, which is something I always appreciate in classes. A couple other honorable mentions I have are MATH2552 with Dr. Yao, ECE2040 with Dr. Casinovi, and ECE3030 with Dr. Yu.
What was your favorite extracurricular activity and why? My favorite extracurricular activity at Tech was volunteering at WREK Radio. I discovered a lot of new music from picking up shifts at different times of the day, and I found a couple of my current favorite artists just from randomly picking CDs to play on air.
Any standout memories or accomplishments from your time at Georgia Tech? One standout memory I have is when I got my first internship. I think at that point I realized everything I was learning really was pushing me towards the career I wanted.
What do you plan to do after graduation? I am interning for IBM this summer as a research intern, and then will be starting in the BS/MS program here this fall!
How has Georgia Tech prepared you for your future? I think the high expectations and workload have prepared me for any future job I might have; getting my degree wasn’t easy, but it certainly made me into a more efficient individual.
What is your advice for future ECE students? Learn not to procrastinate early on! And try to find used parts kits for labs, they will be so much cheaper.
Feel free to add anything else that you would like to say about your time at Georgia Tech. The Auntie Anne’s in the old student center was the best.
Name: Deniz Acil
Major: Electrical Engineering
Why did you choose your major? I have always been drawn into electronics and technology in a variety of ways. I was the kid who would open up his random faulty electronics like a leaking iron to fix the issues with it. Combining this with my evolving interests in math and sciences throughout high school made electrical engineering the best option for me.
Why did you choose to study at Georgia Tech? As an international student, I knew Georgia Tech through my high school advisors as a world-renowned engineering school but what made the difference for me was the breadth of opportunities available to undergraduates. Georgia Tech was one of the unique schools where I saw a vibrant student body that were the backbone of the school’s operations. That convinced me that Georgia Tech would be a welcoming home for me to pursue my dreams. I am glad I made that choice as my years have been filled with amazing experiences that I would have never imagined.
What was your favorite class or professor and why? My favorite class has been ECE 4452: IC Fabrication. This course is dedicated to fabrication of a general integrated circuit chip with a variety of fundamental devices inside. Every week, you learn about the theory, apply it during the lab, and confirm it through simulations. It truly gives you an appreciation into the complete process that drives most of the electronics in the world. The best part is that you get to keep your wafer in a nice little box with your name on it.
What was your favorite extracurricular activity and why? I was a member of Georgia Tech Crew as a rower for my first 2.5 years at Tech, and it was an amazing journey. Rowing in the Chattahoochee river was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life as it has shown me the beauty behind competitive sports. I got to row in beautiful sceneries across the United States, represent Georgia Tech in multitudes of national championships, and met great friends during the process. My time at Georgia Tech Crew has been the reason that exercise and personal fitness are major parts of my life today.
Any standout memories or accomplishments from your time at Georgia Tech? Every year, Georgia Tech hosts a Wreck Parade on the morning of Homecoming. My favorite part of this parade is the fixed body and contraption competition for different organizations. In 2018, my fraternity decided to turn a 1998 Jeep Cherokee into a 50-foot-long wooden boat. I remember the long nights that we spent trying to piece everything together. While it was definitely not an easy ride around the corners of the campus, our efforts got us first place. As a matter of fact, we have continued the tradition for the following years by making these complex fixed body structures, and have won the event for the past three years. All the fixed body constructions we have done so far has been fantastic experiences.
What do you plan to do after graduation? I am planning to pursue a Ph.D. in ECE at Duke University. I have always wanted to learn the depth of certain areas to their fullest extent which led me to graduate school. This upcoming fall, I will be joining Dr. Mikkelsen’s lab which is currently working on state-of-the-art nanophotonics and plasmonics to advance a variety of optoelectronic and sensing technologies. I am hoping to advance as a researcher, a teacher, and a student to improve fundamentals of ECE in the future.
How has Georgia Tech prepared you for your future? Georgia Tech is a school that gives you every opportunity, as long as you ask for it. I have been involved in multiple research experiences, worked at different part time jobs, studied in France for a semester, and have been involved in countless other experiences that have allowed me to flourish as a person. Additionally, the ECE curriculum is designed to challenge students which makes me confident in my abilities as an engineer. Overall, Georgia Tech has allowed me to be an independent professional who can work in dynamic environments, tackle grand challenges, help his community, and still enjoy the process with the people around me.
What is your advice for future ECE students? Go out there and meet with different people. Be present in the moment, and fill every day with something that matters to you. It is easy to get bogged down with grades, projects, and other multitudes of metrics in college life. Do not let the anxiety of the competitive academics at Tech stop you from doing things that are interesting to you. You will still need to work hard to be a good student but do the work to learn and become a better engineer. Act on things as soon as possible. If you want to accomplish something, start planning small parts of it today. If you need assistance, ask someone where to find it today. Four years seems like you have time to do everything, but it does fly away. Lastly, trust your effort and try to enjoy the process. If you are genuinely doing your best, you will find your path in four to five years’ time. Remember that you are at one of the best places in the world to be an engineer.
Last revised April 27, 2021