Career Plan Statement

Career Plan Statement
Academic Enrichment Technical Area
Submitted March 1, 2010

Fields of Interest and Courses Taken

My career interests lie in 1.) the digital signal processing involved with communication systems and sonar applications and 2.) the applications of acoustics, electromagnetics, and hearing sciences.  Enrolling in the real-time digital signal processing laboratory (EE 345 S) class in Fall 2009 sparked a great deal of interest in communications systems, specifically different digital modulation schemes and their design trade offs.  I am currently working on a four-person senior design (EE 464 D) team to implement a real-time communications system for voice and audio transmission over power lines.  Previous experience at Applied Research Laboratories (ARL) working on manipulating sonar array data inspired my interests in image and video processing. To pursue these interests, I am currently enrolled in the Image and Video Processing class (EE 371 R).  At ARL, I gained hands-on experience programming microcontrollers using VHDL.  To learn more about VHDL, I enrolled in the Digital System Design using VHDL (EE 360 M) course in Spring 2009.  Studying Antenna Theory (EE 325 K) in Fall 2009 in addition to my experience at ARL have inspired interest in beam-forming and other methods of analyzing array data.  Motivated by study of acoustics at a previous institution, I studied Hearing Science (CSD 313 L) in Spring 2007 to learn about hearing perception to aid in speech compression design algorithms for communication systems.

Plans After Graduation

After graduation, I intend to work in industry.  My ideal career would be working on sonar, radar, or communications systems utilizing software algorithms to implement the designs.  I hope to apply to businesses that design multimedia-capable cellular phones or sonar/radar implementations.  Perhaps in next five to ten years I will consider continuing my studies of electromagnetism and acoustics to a masters or even a doctorate level.  I have also considered Law school for work as a patent attorney or business school to learn management skills.

How Academic Enrichment Supports These Goals

The courses I propose to count towards my Academic Enrichment technical area are: (EE 360 M) Digital System Design using VHDL, (EE 325 K) Antennas and Wireless Propagation, and (CSD 313 L) Hearing Science.

I gained valuable hand-on experience with programming VHDL onto microcontroller in the VHDL class.  This knowledge can be directly applied to communications systems and sonar applications.  Many companies value hands-on experience with VHDL and I believe this class will serve me well.  Studying antenna theory, particularly arrays of antennas, gave insight how sonar arrays and RF communication systems function.  Understanding the physics behind electromagnetic waves has broadened my understanding of antennas and RF communication systems.  Studying Hearing Science provided insight into the inner-workings of the human ear, particularly speech and audio perception.  This knowledge could be applied to speech or audio compression algorithms to be used on communication systems (like cellular phones).  As a side note, I also enrolled in the Speech Science class to aid in the understanding of phonetics.  Unfortunately, this class will not count towards my degree, but I do not regret taking it.  Learning about phonetics will help implementing speech compression algorithms.

The most exciting part about choosing these classes to fulfill my Academic Enrichment technical area is that they support my primary technical area, Signal and Image Processing.  The VHDL class could aid in the implementations of DSP designs.  The Hearing Science course would be a great benefit to creating or implementing speech/audio compression algorithms.  The antenna theory course explains the physics behind the communications systems.

How my technical area selection has changed over time

My original intent two years ago was to study Electromagnetic Engineering and Academic Enrichment.  I planned to take Antennas and Wireless Propagation (EE 325 K), Engineering Acoustics I (EE 363N), and Acoustics II to fulfill the Electromagnetic Engineering technical area.  I planned to take Digital System Design using VHDL (EE 360 M), Real-Time DSP Lab (EE 345 S), and Hearing Science (CSD 313 L) to fulfill the Academic Enrichment technical area.

The availability of courses being offered by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has frequently dictated which classes I will take and ultimately my choice of technical areas.  Wilson’s Engineering Acoustics I was canceled in Fall 2009, disqualifying me from taking Acoustics II.  I had little interest in the limited selection of other Electromagnetic Engineering courses being offered, so I was forced to reconsider my technical area selection that would allow me to graduate on time.  Even before I even set foot on UT campus, I knew I wanted to take classes on acoustics and hearing science.  It was such a disappointment that the Acoustics I class was canceled.
Fortunately, I was enrolled in EE 345 S and could pursue Signal and Image Processing as a technical area.  In order to graduate on time, I was forced into taking the only other Signal and Image Processing courses being offered this semester.  Fortunately again, the classes interested me.

“Describe your work, organizational, and leadership styles.”

In my work, I am tireless in my attention to detail, yet able to maintain a clear vision of the big picture.  Working as an electrical engineering student has helped me foster this skill.  Working on complicated software, circuits, or physics problems forces one to consider the most minute of details while ensuring that the solution still fits the problem.  With my work in Phi Sigma Pi, I have to consider the interests of the Brothers, the officers, the University, and the National Office.  I also have to consider the small-scale issues like undesired consequences, loopholes, and consistency.  My grandfather always preached, “If you can’t do something right, don’t do it at all.” This quote has stuck with me all of my life and is evident in all that I do.  I believe that not committing 100% to a task is a waste of time.

My organization style is best described as hierarchical, using hierarchies to group relevant information together.  Using these groupings, I am able to include a great deal of detail in my planning while still keeping the big picture intact.  The ability to organize effectively is the ability to manage information from a variety of sources.  I use Google Docs exhaustively for organizing my Phi Sigma Pi documents.  I created a folder shared by all the officers that includes all the documents from Nationals, meeting agendas and minutes, rosters, committee lists, family lists, bylaws, risk management policies, operating policies, committee business, requirements, attendance sheets, blank forms, previous form 110s, memorandums, and Powerpoint presentations given during meetings.  Each officer has their own drop box for sharing pertinent documents with the other officers.  This way of organizing allows the officers to communicate ideas easily between meetings.

My leadership style is a mix of transformational and participative.  The transformational style of leadership functions by creating a vision for the group and creating excitement and energy about that vision [1].  During my service as President, I have used the mantra “Let’s put PSP on the map!” to help create a vision for the group and to create excitement for the Brotherhood.  I adopted this slogan when I was running for office and have repeated it numerous times throughout the semester.  I see the potential of the group and my biggest goal has been to share that vision with the Brothers.  If they too could see the potential of the group, Brother apathy would disappear entirely.  Since adopting this mantra and working to make it happen, we have seen a drastic reduction in Brother apathy.  I realized early on that the best way to motivate the officers to do their job is not to tell them what to do, but rather to excite them to do the best job that they can.  Both semesters, I planned officer retreats that helped them bond as a group and become excited about the cause.  It was a gradual process, but the officers we have now are the most dedicated that the Fraternity has ever seen.

The participative style of leadership functions by allowing everyone to participate in the decision-making process [2].  The assumption behind this style is that people are more committed to a decision when they have invested their own time and thought.  This semester, we started implementing Robert’s Rules of Order to help facilitate the decision-making process.  The Brothers were very receptive to having a say in policy making and event planning.  Similarly, the officers discuss executive matters during Executive Board meetings.  I have learned through trial and error that the best alternative to a solution is usually one that consults a variety of opinions and resources.

Above all else, I lead by example.  I am not above any member of the organization and I have shown that by performing even the most menial tasks like cleaning up after events.  Officers can trust my advice because they know that if I am giving them advice, that I have experience with their situation.