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ECE Summer Launch Students in group at January 2022 reunion
April 1, 2022

ECE Summer Launch gives students jump start on life as a Badger

Written By: Allyson Crowley

Last winter, a group of first-year ECE students who participated in the 2021 ECE Summer Launch program met up in Engineering Hall for a reunion. Except, for most them, it wasn’t a reunion at all—many had made lasting friendships during the summer program which had carried on for their first semesters at UW-Madison.

ECE Summer Launch is a program designed to give admitted College of Engineering students a little head start on their undergraduate experience. The four-week program takes place in July and August and includes enrollment in ECE 210: Introductory Experience in Electrical Engineering. The course includes an introduction to electrical devices and components, circuits and systems and is capped off with a real-world project. ECE-210 is a required course for both electrical and computer engineering students and satisfies credit requirements for other engineering programs as well.

Even more important, the program allows students to start college with confidence, make friends and get their bearings on campus before the start of the fall semester.

2021 ECE Summer Launch Students participating in the Solympics Make-a-thon
2021 ECE Summer Launch Students participating in the Solympics Make-a-thon

Students in the 2021 session all stayed in the DeJope Residence Hall and were taught by Professor Giri Venkataramanan, who has received teaching awards at the department, college, and campus levels.* For their final project, Summer Launch students shadowed and helped participants in the Solympics, a make-a-thon event at UW Makerspace in which teams developed innovative, solar-powered solutions for charging devices like phones.

Thompson Electronics Design Studio

Students in the course were also some of the first to use the new, interactive, James H. Thompson Electronics Design Studio in Engineering Hall. The lab, generously funded by alumnus Jim Thompson (BSEE ‘85, MSEE ‘87, PhD EE ‘91), chief technical officer of the tech company Qualcomm, is a bright, adaptable space with state-of-the-art design stations and a layout that encourages student collaboration.  In addition, thanks to generous donations from alumni and supporters, each student is given a lab kit that will serve them for the rest of their undergraduate experience. Each kit includes a USB-powered multi-function test/measurement instrument, microcontroller, multimeter, and supplies for circuit building such as LED’s, sensors, actuator, wires, and a breadboard.

The friends that gathered at the Summer Launch reunion say the program was a great way to ease into the academics at UW-Madison. They agreed that was equally successful in orienting them to life on campus. “We had time to figure out things like where to eat and where to take walks,” says participant Jordan Scott. “We learned a lot and made a lot of friends. And I’m glad they’re still my friends.”

Registration for the 2022 ECE Summer Launch will be accepting applications until May 1st, 2022.  Any student admitted to the UW-Madison College of Engineering is welcome to participate, regardless of their intended engineering major.  It’s a great way to explore electrical and computer engineering, and UW-Madison.

*Professor Venkataramanan has been awarded:
2011 UW-Madison Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
2008 College of Engineering Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching
2002 ECE Department Gerald Holdridge Teaching Award