By: Christina Plante, Assistant Director of Career Services
The Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) and Computer Science (CS) Student Showcase is an event sponsored by the Pratt ECE department and Master of Engineering (MEng) program, where students have the opportunity to present an innovative class or personal project individually or in a group to industry professionals in a reverse career fair format. Each student has a table where they showcase their project via a poster, their laptop, etc. This is a great way for students to show their work as opposed to a Career Fair where they can only speak about their work.
The idea for this event was created by Ross Wade who previously served as an Assistant Director of Career Services for Pratt Engineering Master students. He found it was easier for students to promote themselves when they demonstrated projects they completed and described various components of their work using visual aids and technology. Making this event feel more like a poster presentation rather than an uncomfortable networking event has helped students build confidence when they talk about themselves.
The showcase was launched to demonstrate the talent of our Master’s Students in ECE and has expanded to include CS students as well as undergraduate and PhD students. It is also part of the Duke School of Engineering’s Industry Partners Day, an opportunity for companies to maximize their exposure on campus during the day between TechConnect and the Career Fair.
The goals of the showcase is for students to:
- Explain project scope and process so employers can see their value
- Use visual displays to illustrate project components in a clear and concise way
- Promote themselves and network with employers for potential job opportunities
Spring 2016 Event at a Glance
Agenda Spring 2016
10:00 – 10:30am Student Check-In and Presentation Set-Up
10:30am – 12:30pm Student Presentations
12:30 – 1:45pm Networking Lunch with Employers
Employers (along with faculty, staff, and other students) visit tables and ask questions to presenters about their projects. There is also an opportunity to network with representatives (HR, engineers and managers) from ECE and CS companies during lunch. A sample of companies that participated in the past includes IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, SAP, Ambarella and Google.
As part of the event, we also invite faculty and staff to meet with the employer representatives during breakfast to discuss industry trends and discover new insights. It is a great opportunity to learn how we can better serve our students and employers.
There is also an opportunity for student participants to learn how to pitch or “sell” their project to employers in a pre-event workshop. They discuss tips and strategies for an effective project explanation, hear employer feedback from the past, develop a pitch, and practice with their group. This event is meant to be a way to showcase a project that students have already completed or have made progress on. This allows more time for preparing a visual display and a pitch.
Student response has been small but impactful so far. Here are what some attending students said about the event:
“The showcase was an awesome opportunity to present our projects and talk to employers! I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity.”
“At the showcase, I was able to talk about my practical, hands-on engineering experience outside of class. Employers really look for initiative, presentation, and creativeness – the showcase was a perfect environment to display those skills!”
“By far the best networking activity I have attended at Duke.”
The ECE and CS Student Showcase happens in January shortly after the start of the semester. Be on the look out for registration emails in the fall so you can sign up early. This is such a good chance to engage with employers in a smaller setting instead of the large groups of a typical career fair. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity!