By Ross Wade, Assistant Director of Career Services
On January 24, Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering held its first Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Student Showcase event. The event, sponsored by the Master of Engineering Program and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, provided ECE students (undergraduate and graduate) the opportunity to share an innovative class project to invited employers. Engineers and recruiters from Facebook, Qualcomm, NetApp, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle visited student tables to hear (and experience) some of the projects students are working on.
Student projects included:
Robo-Arm – A 3D printed hand mimicking the motion of a human hand in real time. The system is Arduino based. A sensor-embedded glove it worn on the hand, its movements are then replicated by the 3d printed hand.
Personal Finance Companion – Software that manages daily transactions and financial account information, can be used to set up budgets, and remind you of upcoming financial events.
Greedy Mario Game – A game that can turn snake-like chain cubelets into a cube when manipulated by the player (the player needs to fit each segment of the chain into a cube by deciding the movement of each of those segments through the direction button). The game can provide a hint prior to each player’s move. The game ends when the entire chain fits into the cube.
Students found the event exciting and stated that having a project to discuss with employers helped them with connecting and networking.
Employers found the event interesting and thoroughly enjoyed connecting with ECE students; a member from the IBM team stated, “I was so impressed with one team of engineers that I contacted them them afterward. This team embodied the spirit of engineering and it was refreshing to see this creativity, teamwork, and applied science used to positively shape the world around them. In the professional world it’s too easy to loose this engineering spirit for other goals.”
A networking breakfast and lunch was held so students, employers, ECE faculty and staff could talk about industry trends, career paths, and Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.
The employers that participated in the showcase were surveyed after the event and provided five great tips students should consider when preparing for similar events.
1. When discussing your project, remember to discuss the challenges you faced and the solutions you found; this helps employers understand how you think through challenges and also reflects other important non-technical skills such as communication, team work, persuasive, and analytical.
2. Explain your projects from a high level (from a broader perspective and not too technical) so a variety of employers (including non-technical recruiters) can understand the purpose of the project, the steps you took during the project, and the result.
3. When engaging with employers, ask thoughtful questions. Do not ask, “What should I put on my resume?” Ask company representatives how their company works, how different offices interact, etc. Ask about current technology trends and how those trends are affecting their company.
4. Have a variety of display materials – the more interactive your project the better! In addition to a laptop, add flyers, models, games, etc.
5. Smile and have good eye contact. Employers want to know you are excited about your work and have confidence in your project.