Graduate Certificate in Electrical Engineering Foundations

Paul Marsh (GCEEF '16, MSEE '18)

What made you choose to apply/enroll in the UW Bothell Graduate Certificate in Electrical Engineering Foundations?

I chose electrical engineering as I was specifically interested in developing skills in terms of in-situ sensing for both my professional work as a data engineer for motorsports teams and for a desired future career in environmental sensing. When I started the graduate certificate program, I didn’t know if I would go on to a master’s, but I did know that the certificate offered positive outcomes for my future. After enrolling, I knew I’d gain a leg up for gaining entry into the MSEE program, as well as give myself a professional advantage (increase skills, pay and networking).

What were some of the highlights of your experience as a student?

The “Signals and Systems” course was enjoyable as it covered a huge range of material that I’d dealt with only tangentially and had always wanted to understand in depth. In this program, I quickly realized that once you’ve reduced a control system to a single pole-zero plot or viewed an image in a 2D Fourier spectrum, you’ll look at the world in a different way.

What advice do you have for others regarding the career search during and post graduate certificate completion?

When searching be open to different types of opportunities. Electrical engineering is a broad discipline and is in demand in every industry; there are many EE jobs in aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics, but don’t forget about avenues like basic science labs, vertical farming startups, or even high-end electronic cookware manufacturers.

What has been the most challenging part of being a student? 

The challenge for me was relearning a proper work-life balance; in other words, finding the middle ground between laziness and burnout. Working, attending class, doing coursework, and participating in research takes a large number of hours, so it took some time to determine personal priorities and learn to set aside time. Keeping a regular exercise schedule made the biggest difference.

What advice do you have for future students?

My advice is to continuously reevaluate your goals. Framing your current work in the context of means to an end can help you maintain motivation and plan for the future. On the other hand, don’t forget to live in the moment a little and reflect on the complexity of the theory and technology that modern electrical engineering is built upon.

Where are you currently working, and what is your job title? Do you feel the graduate certificate adequately prepared you for the work you are doing?

This summer (2018) I’m working as a “Research Technologist 3” here at UW Bothell, helping to structure the usage of and training for the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Electron Dispersive x-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) hardware that is available on campus. I’m also still performing sensor research with my thesis faculty mentor. I do believe the GCEEF program helped prepare me for both this current work and my future Ph.D. because it taught me a number of relevant technical skills and conceptual models that I use now. For example, we regularly view the frequency spectrum of our wireless transmission circuits and tune resonant analog components to adjust said spectrum. For another example, I required knowledge of semiconductor physics in order to experiment with Assistant Professor Seungkeun Choi’s Complementary Metal-oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) doping process, adjust metal-oxide film stability, and understand the signal transduction occurring inside the SEMs detectors.

Any other thoughts you would like to share?

Take risks and fail. Then teach others about your failure. Failure is the best teacher and is the first step to success.