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Alex Thornton talks to students in front of stellarator
March 31, 2023

ECE Discovery Day sends students on a trek of career exploration

Written By: Allyson Crowley


In what has become an annual event, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) hosted ECE Discovery Day in Engineering Hall for all undergraduate ECE students recently. During this special event, students had the opportunity to learn about the wide variety of career paths that electrical and computer engineers can follow. The event was intended to encourage students to think about areas within their field that interest them and learn how to explore those interests through their coursework.

During the ECE Discovery Day event, students followed a self-guided tour of seven ECE labs and learning spaces where they heard about seven different ECE areas of interest.  At each of the stops, faculty and graduate students were on hand to share demonstrations or information about a specific interest area.

The seven areas of interest included in ECE Discovery Day were:

  • Clean Energy: Sustainability, Infrastructure, Transportation
  • Autonomous Systems: Sensors, Robotics, Controls
  • Healthcare: Wearable devices, Diagnostics, Therapies
  • Wireless Systems: 5G/6G Communication, Internet of Things
  • Machine Learning, Data Science, AI
  • Computing Systems: Mobile and Cloud, Architecture
  • Chip Technology: Integrated Circuits, Nano-fabrication, Semiconductor Devices

ECE offers a large variety of elective coursework that supports interest exploration. Students were able to hear about the interesting courses they may choose to learn more about a specific area and how to tailor their ECE academic path around their interests. Student services coordinators were also available to answer specific questions about classes and course planning.

For the Clean Energy and Chip Technology hubs, students were treated to special, guided tours. Part of the clean energy stop was a visit to the Helically Symmetric eXperiment, or HSX, located in Engineering Hall. It is the world’s only modular coil stellarator and is used to research the clean energy field of fusion. On a separate guided tour for the Chip Technology hub, students visited a state-of-the-art clean room where cutting-edge microchip technology is being researched and created. It is one of the labs that is included in the Wisconsin Centers for Nanoscale Technology and is housed in the Engineering Centers Building.

Recent data from College of Engineering Career Services shows that the demand for UW-Madison electrical and computer engineers remains high. The latest placement rate and salary information was gathered from students who graduated in 2021-2022. BS in Computer Engineering graduates had a 97.12% placement rate, while BS in Electrical Engineering graduates had a 94.19% placement rate. The placement rate reflects student-reported graduate school plans or employment within engineering field. Starting salary information also reflects the demand for ECE engineers. The same students reported an average starting salary of $94,633 for computer engineers and $76,156 for electrical engineers.

Jesus Perez and Timothy Shih standing by a tall table in the Cheney Room in Engineering Hall
Clean room tour guides and undergraduate students Jesus Perez and Timothy Shih were ready to escort ECE Discovery Day participants to the clean room in the Engineering Centers Building.
ECE Academic Advisors Nick Adams and Madeline Fer Chapman are ready to talk with students about course selection and academic pathways that fit their interests.
Bhuvana Krishnaswamy talks with students in a lab filled with computers
Assistant Professor Bhuvana Krishnaswamy talks with students in the Wireless Systems: 5G/6G Communication, Internet of Things hub.
Eric Hoffman and Bill Sethares stand behind a chess board on the floor with small wheeled object on the board
Teaching Faculty Eric Hoffman and Professor William Sethares are ready for students in the Autonomous Systems: Sensors, Sensing, Robotics, Controls hub. They stand behind the Knight’s Tour Bot which is an ECE551 design project where the the wheeled bot is given a command to perform the chess moves for the Knight’s Tour.
Students stand in front of a modular coil stellarator while Alex Thornton speaks
Assistant Instrumentation Innovator Alex Thornton (left) talks to students about fusion energy in front of the modular coil stellarator HSX.