May 2019

A Celebration of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California San Diego

By: Trisha Kholiya, Student Writer, Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego

Last month, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) in the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering hosted ECE Day - a day dedicated to celebrating the spirit of the ECE community and bringing awareness to all it offers students, faculty, and alumni.

"Our ECE community came together to make this year's events incredibly successful," said Truong Nguyen, PhD, ECE Department Chair at UC San Diego. "Each year the dozens of students, volunteers, staff, and others work very hard to create a fun and engaging environment for all who participate."

Above: Students spell out the words "ECE DAY" with their bodies. This year's celebration featured keynote speaker and UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering alum Christopher Ellis (far right), who emphasized the opportunities that ECE provided him and highlighted the importance of student involvement.

This year, ECE held events that included workshops, company and research showcases, as well as an inspiring keynote speech with dinner. Workshops introduced students to real-world applications of materials learned in class. The company showcase featured many UC San Diego alumni who spoke to students about their careers and the valuable skills they learned at the university. Companies that attended included Northrop Grumman, Viasat, Surcle, PAQ, and Education Vision Technology. The research showcase was an opportunity for students to meet representatives from different labs within ECE. And as always, ECE had amazing food trucks waiting outside to feed attendees.

"We want ECE to reach out to not only the people in the department, but lower classmen who don't know what they want to focus on yet, like undeclared and incoming students," said fourth-year ECE student Jasmine Chiang. "We want to show people that it's not only people in the major that can work on these things. It's outreach to the community."

Alongside fourth-year ECE student Nihar Wahal and others, Chiang was part of the group that has been working to plan this event since August 2018. To her, ECE Day is important for community outreach.

A similar theme ran through the keynote speech from UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering alumnus Christopher Ellis. In his speech, Ellis highlighted the opportunities he had as an undergraduate student in the ECE community. These experiences included participating in the ECE undergraduate student council, getting involved in numerous student organizations, and traveling around the country and the world through his involvement.

Above: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering alum Christopher Ellis gave this year's ECE Day 2019 keynote speech. He emphasized the opportunities that ECE provided him and highlighted his student involvement.

Most importantly, ECE gave Ellis a chance to get real-world experience. After working on the Cube Satellite project, in which a team of engineering undergraduates worked on sending a satellite into orbit around the moon, he met the CEO of the company that currently employs him. Just last fall, Ellis won a $1 million grand prize at the largest startup pitch company in the world, 43North. He attributes this win largely to the academic support and hands-on experiences that the ECE Department at the Jacobs School of Engineering provided him.

"I'm hoping students were able to learn from my examples of how involvement in the ECE community as an undergraduate student can help shape a career," Ellis said. "I've had extraordinary opportunities early in my career because of my involvement in student organizations and projects and I can't stress enough how others can have the same fortune. Opportunities are made through choices we make."

His favorite part of 2019's ECE Day was the passion in the air and the excitement surrounding ECE. Second-year ECE student Po Huang, a member of the planning team, also loved to see the genuine joy from incoming freshmen as they saw everything ECE had to offer.

Above: Students and incoming freshmen excitedly signed up to obtain wristbands to participate in this year's ECE Day. Students could attend a company showcase, research showcase, participate in hands-on workshops, and attend the keynote speech and dinner.

"One of the incoming freshman came, but couldn't come inside because he was under 18 and had to have his parents sign the waiver. He went back and brought his mom and was pushing his mom to hurry up because he wanted to come inside to see all the events," said Huang. "It's just good to see those excited faces, eager to learn about what ECE is, eager to explore what we have to offer."

To learn more about ECE Day 2019 at UC San Diego, visit: