ECE Communicators Program

ECEDHA is pleased to present a special program specifically designed for ECE Department Communicators and PR Professionals at the ECEDHA Annual Conference. 

This two-day program will provide the opportunity for ECE Communicators to come together to gain a greater understanding of how difficult it has become to educate the public and prospective students about ECE amid the noise of more popular programs. 

Through ECEDHA's ECE Communicators Network, this program allows the opportunity to share best practices in educating the public and prospective students about the exciting field of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


The beginning of the ECE Communicators Program

In 2017, Catharine June from the University of Michigan and Ashlee Gardner from Georgia Tech took the lead in forming an ECE Communicators Group for their peers. The group first hosted special programming for communicators at the 2017 ECEDHA Annual Conference in Miramar Beach, Florida. We were pleased to have quite a few communicators from all over the country attend the inaugural program. In 2018, we found that our attendee number doubled - and our impact grew. Now in its third year, we hope to host an even larger group of Communicators at ECEDHA 2019 in Tucson, as it is an important time to get your institution involved.

Where we are today

In addition to all of the valuable programming on education, diversity, and research at the Annual Conference, there will be a dedicated ECE Communicators Meeting, allowing your institution's communications and public relations professional to get an in-depth introduction to the branding toolkit and implementation strategies, as well as key networking time with peers.

ECE Communicators Program Schedule of Events

While communicators are invited and encouraged to take advantage of the full conference programming, the below schedule highlights the dedicated communicator sessions at the Annual Conference.

Download the full schedule here.


Saturday, March 23

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm ECEDHA’s Western Corral Reception

**Bring your cowboy boots & casual wear!
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Last Territory

Sunday, March 24

9:00 am – 1:00 pm ECEDHA Communicators Meeting
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Coronado 1

9:00 am – 9:30 am Breakfast

9:30 am – 9:45 am Introductions
Ashlee Gardner, Georgia Tech
Catharine June, University of Michigan

9:45 am – 11:00 am Panel: Straight from the Students’ Mouths
Craig Smith, Arizona State University
Todd Sweet, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

11:00 am – 11:15 am Networking Break

11:15 am – 12:00 pm Lightning Stories on Professional Development
Anne Stuart, MIT
Jess MacInnis, University of Toronto

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch & New ECEDHA Brand Discussion
Greg Abel, Tailfin Marketing
Tracy Clark, Tailfin Marketing

6:00 pm – 6:45 pm ECExpo Welcome Reception

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm ECEDHA Communicators Dinner
**Spouses welcome!
Location: Wildflower Tucson (7037 N. Oracle Road)

Monday, March 25

7:00 am – 7:30 am Continental Breakfast
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Turquoise Foyer

7:30 am – 8:00 am ECEDHA Program Updates
New Brand Unveiling: Tailfin Marketing
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Presidio 1-4

8:00 am – 8:45 am ECEDHA Conference Keynote
Jeff Miller, Director of Electrical Subsystems, Raytheon
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Presidio 1-4

8:45 am – 9:45 am ECEDHA Communicators Meeting
Branding ECE: Strategies & Practices
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Coronado 1
Organizers: Trudi Brown, North Carolina State University
Charles Hall, North Carolina State University

9:45 am – 10:30 am ECExpo Break

10:30 am – 11:30 am ECEDHA Communicators Meeting
Strengthening the Future of ECE through K-12 Outreach
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Coronado 1
Organizers: Ashlee Gardner, Georgia Tech
Catharine June, University of Michigan
Oscar Loera, Texas Instruments

11:30 am – 12:00 pm ECEDHA Communicators Meeting
Planning the 2019 Summer Communicators Workshop
Location: Hilton El Conquistador, Coronado 1
Organizers: Ashlee Gardner, Georgia Tech
Catharine June, University of Michigan

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm ECExpo Lunch

Sunday Session Information

Panel: Straight from the Students' Mouths (9:45 am - 11:00 am) 
In 2017 ECEDHA and Tailfin embarked on a rebranding effort for the electrical and computer engineering discipline. As part of that effort, Tailfin conducted surveys and focus groups with a number of critical constituencies, including prospective students. The feedback we received was valuable in setting the direction of our messaging to future engineers. Take a look back at the key results of this research and then bring the research findings to life through our live student panel. Current electrical and computer engineering students from four universities will be on hand to react to the research findings, remember how and why they selected their programs, and reply to your questions. Build your career with key insights from current students that will help you market electrical and computer engineering into the future. 


 Craig Smith
 Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications
 Arizona State University

Craig Smith brings more than 20 years of marketing and communications experience to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is responsible for the messaging and promotion of the largest academic research engineering program in the United States. This position is Craig’s third stint at Arizona State University as he holds a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, where he went on to serve as their director of marketing and communications years later. Prior to joining Arizona State University most recently, Craig was the managing director of corporate communications for Best Western Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel chain, for nearly a decade.


 Todd Sweet
 Director of Communications
 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Todd Sweet currently serves as the director of communications for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois. In this role, he leads a team responsible for alumni and donor relations, communications, and corporate relations. Previously, Todd worked for 10 years at the university’s Gies College of Business. He graduated with a BA in economics from Colorado College and also spent 10 years in the finance industry in Seattle.

Lightning Stories on Professional Development (11:15 am - 12:00 pm) 
In this lightning round, several ECEDHA communicators will describe how they overcame a specific communications challenge – in no more than five minutes, using no more than five slides. These could be outstanding social, digital, or print projects; successful media opportunities; stellar events; or new or improved processes or systems. All ECEDHA communicators who register for the conference will be invited to submit their ideas for this lightning round. Those selected will BRIEFLY share their challenges, solutions, and tips during the ECEDHA Communicators Session on Sunday, March 24 (don’t worry, we will notify you well in advance). More details to come.

  Jessica MacInnis
Senior Communications Officer
University of Toronto

Jessica MacInnis is the senior communications officer in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Toronto. She’s responsible for external and internal communications as well as alumni relations, advancement, student recruitment and external relations for ECE. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, she was director of communications at a national pediatric oncology charity.

  Anne Stuart
Communications Officer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Anne Stuart became the communications officer for MIT’s EECS Department in February 2017. Previously, she was the custom-content director at MIT Technology Review and a senior editorial staffer specializing in technology coverage for Inc., CIO, and other publications. Earlier, she was a news reporter for several daily newspapers and the Associated Press. She teaches graduate communication classes at two Boston-area colleges. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from Michigan State and a masters in journalism from Columbia.


Lunch: New ECEDHA Brand Discussion (12:00 pm - 1:00 pm) 


   Tracy Clark
 Tailfin Marketing
   Greg Abel
 Tailfin Marketing

Monday Session Information

Branding ECE: Strategies & Practices (8:45 am - 9:45 am)
Following the rollout of the ECEDHA branding campaign by Tailfin Marketing at the 2018 ECEDHA Annual Conference in Monterey, California last March, this year’s session will explore different ways departments can and have integrated the ECEDHA branding strategy with their institution’s branding practices. The session will review the branding strategy and available marketing toolkit, as well as provide an overview of best practices and examples of implementation through various marketing and advertising mediums including printed collateral, online/web, social media, video, events, facilities/signage and direct marketing (alumni, prospective students, employers).

  Trudi Brown
Director of External Relations, Electrical and Computer Engineering
North Carolina State University

Trudi Brown serves as the director of external relations for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University. In her role, she oversees the department’s corporate partnership program, focusing on strategic engagement and recruiting opportunities; supports outreach and student recruitment activities; and provides direction with the department’s overall marketing, communications, and public relations initiatives.

Trudi has over 20 years of development, marketing, alumni and public relations experience working in higher education, health care and banking. She previously served as the director of development at Campbell Law School in Raleigh, North Carolina and the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University.
  Charles Hall
Communications Coordinator, Electrical and Computer Engineering
North Carolina State University

Charles Hall is the communications coordinator for Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University and a mission to translate engineering into words, images, and engaging content that accelerates the next generation of innovators. Charles has previously operated in communication roles at Vanier College, Montreal, and served as deputy director of Leaders International in Washington, DC, working to provide leadership training and opportunities with high school students around the world.


Strengthening the Future of ECE Through K-12 Outreach (10:30 am - 11:30 am) 
A major in electrical engineering was once one of the most popular destinations for future engineers. Competition from a greater number of engineering majors, some of which grew out of electrical engineering, and the enormous popularity of computer science has made electrical engineering more of a curiosity among many students than a final goal, despite the importance of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) to future technology. This session is focused on strengthening the pipeline to a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering through outreach efforts to K-12 students.

The 3 panelists will open with a brief summary of some of the outreach efforts done at their companies/institutions that focus on introducing K-12 students to the magic of ECE. The panelists will leave a significant portion of time for questions and open sharing of outreach activities taking place at the institutions of fellow communicators.


Ashlee Gardner
Communications Manager, ECE
Georgia Institute of Technology

Ashlee Gardner is a Communications Manager in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In this role, she serves as the primary steward and contact for online communications, social media, and branding/marketing efforts. She creates marketing programs that deliver key messages and support the School's strategic goals by generating awareness, building brand loyalty, and engaging key audiences and stakeholders through publications and online marketing. Prior to her position with Georgia Tech, she worked in non-profit arts organizations as well as marketing and advertising agencies. She holds a B.A. in English from Guilford College and an M.A. in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex.

Catharine June
Communications Manager, ECE
University of Michigan

Catharine June is the Communications Manager for Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. She has worked in the department since 1994 in a variety of roles, including research, administration, alumni relations, communications and marketing. She is currently directly involved in, or oversees, the website and its content, print and digital material, photos, video, and social media activities that focus on the faculty, students, and alumni of ECE at Michigan. She received a PhD in Musicology from the University of Michigan.



   Oscar Loera, Jr.
 Digital Marketing Program Manager
 Texas Instruments

Oscar Loera leads university digital marketing for Texas Instruments to attract, engage and convert educators and students with TI content, including robotics and power management learning kits. Oscar received a BSEE in Computer Engineering from UT El Paso and an MBA from Southern Methodist University.




Planning the 2019 Summer Communicators Workshop (11:30 am - 12:15 pm) 

"I have attended the past two ECEDHA meetings because of their sessions addressing the current image of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which is important to me as a communicator for ECE. Being part of ECEDHA is helping me to collaborate with other communicators and professionals in the field to help strengthen the brand. Attracting the best students to ECE is important to society. I am grateful for the opportunity to assist in this important goal."

Catharine June, ECE Communications & Marketing Manager, University of Michigan

Thank you to our 2019 Sponsors