Recruiting Is Not Just for Athletic Teams!

College athletic coaches are not the only recruiters in the SEC. Faculty, staff and alumni of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at MSU would also like to attract students capable of performing well academically. Recently, high school students were recruited through two events, including a visit to Clinton High School (CHS) and MSU Fall Discovery 2004.

Bradley prepares for a robotic demo

On September 24, some of Clinton High School's brightest students learned more about what life is like as an ECE student and as an ECE graduate as well. Electrical Engineering master's student, Kristen Bradley, and Diversified Technology hardware design engineer, Elmer Durrell, shared some of their recent experiences with the CHS students through a series of presentations at the Clinton, MS high school.

Bradley, a 2003 alumnae of Electrical Engineering who expects to receive her M.S. degree in May of 2005, talked with students about what it takes to be successful as an undergraduate student, such as inquisitiveness, persistence, and good time management skills. In addition, she highlighted some of the activities with which she had been involved. "I feel that it is vital as an engineering student to be involved in organizations and activities that are non-technical in nature to keep from feeling burned-out," said Bradley. "Intramural sports and arts are great ways to stay energetic and well rounded."

Durrell speaks to CHS students

Durrell, a 2000 Electrical Engineering alumnus, explained to the students some of the details of his work as a designer of cutting-edge processor-based systems. He discussed some of the products in which his designs are found, and also showed students some of the actual circuit boards used in those designs. In addition to giving the CHS students insight to his work, he also discussed with them the common perceptions (and misconceptions) of engineers and what they do. The time he spent volunteering to share with the students was invaluable. "I understand how important young minds are to our future work force and the advancement of the world," said Durrell.

Some 70 students attended the presentations that day at Clinton High School, including students taught by physics instructor, Mr. Andrew Blum, and calculus students taught by Mathematics Department Head, Mrs. Ann Kyzar.

Mike Nosser, ECE's Undergraduate Coordinator, believes that speaking to high school students at recruiting events such as these, for the purpose of introducing them to the vast array of professional avenues available through electrical and computer engineering, is time well spent. "Most high school, and even many early college students, are unaware of the possibilities available to them upon graduation from one of these disciplines. The better we can illustrate to students what an electrical or a computer engineering degree positions them to achieve and enables them to accomplish, the better prepared students will be to make wise decisions that impact their future. Careers are much larger than a set of courses in an academic program, and students need to have a vision of the direction in which they're headed."

Hagler teaches soldering techniques

On Saturday, October 30, the ECE Department participated in a recruiting event of a different flavor: MSU Fall Discovery Day. This University-wide event held each year on the MSU "Drill Field" located in the center of campus introduces prospective students to what the University has to offer from academics to student life. The ECE Department was one of several academic units that displayed interactive and illustrative devices and workstations to give prospective students a taste of what they would encounter as students of the programs. One stop that interested students seemed to enjoy was a soldering contest supervised by Dr. Marion Hagler. Hagler, holder of the Robert D. Guyton Chair and current instructor of a freshmen-level course called Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering, carefully taught attentive students the finer techniques of attaching electronic components to small circuit boards. "Learning to solder can open new perspectives for students learning about circuits," said Hagler. "Building and making measurements on circuits make voltage and current, invisible and rather abstract ideas after all, seem more real. I believe such tangible perspectives help students grasp and apply the underlying theory that they learn."

Reese describes processor applications

Dr. Bob Reese also spent time talking with prospective students about digital devices and microprocessor technology and their use in current student projects in ECE. He demonstrated these applications by manipulating a small-wheeled robot using a simple universal remote control and home monitoring system.