Saying Thanks (but not goodbye) to My Electrical Engineering Family!

By Ashley Iu

As the final days of college approach, I am sincerely appreciative of the incredible people I have met at USC. The Electrical Engineering community is a beautiful family that has pushed and inspired me to do better everyday. This department has always been easy to access and supportive of new ideas.  Four years ago, when I made the decision to join EE, I had no idea I’d be working with people who are so committed to looking out for one another. My time here has been a rewarding, challenging experience.

I am still amazed at the incredible number of opportunities that were available to me at USC. If there is anything you want to do here, you can make it happen and the best part is that people will support you. My freshman year, I wanted to do research and I was able to join the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory after talking to Professor Shri Narayanan.

Shri is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and an industry leader in researching speech recognition and processing.  Imagine how lucky I felt, as a bright-eyed first year undergrad, to work with a Professor as accomplished and busy as Shri!  Despite his stature, he was always caring, patient, and helpful to his students.  I soon realized this was a trait in many of my electrical engineering professors who were industry leaders in their fields. Whether you want to do research, talk to a renowned professor, or create a club – it’s possible and you can find someone to help.

For the past several years I’ve been a member of the USC chapter of IEEE – the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. Last year, I wanted to organize an opportunity for students to attend the Consumers Electronics Showcase (CES). This is the largest trade show for electrical engineering students to make connections and see the real-life applications of the theories we learn about in class. We organized a group of EE students to travel to Las Vegas and attend CES and the IEEE Rising Stars Conference. In addition, this semester I am excited to say that IEEE@USC launched its own philanthropy event: Smart On. Smart On hosts Saturday Electrical Engineering workshops that give USC EE students the chance to mentor middle schoolers in the South Los Angeles area. With the help of Professor Gary Landis and Darin Gray (Director of Pre-College Programs at USC), we worked with a group of middle school students and mentored them in Electrical Engineering and STEM topics.  Aside from being personally rewarding, it was really eye opening to be on the teaching end of engineering, and made me think about my discipline in new ways.

Ashley, front row far right, with fellow IEEE@USC members and South L.A. Middle Schoolers at the Smart On event.

I’ve taken small-sized classes with renowned faculty that are supportive and caring about the students. I’ve also met exceptional classmates that are just as committed to helping each other learn and overcome the challenging curriculum. It has been an encouraging experience and it really makes electrical engineering, though a difficult subject, something you love because of the sense of belonging and community.

My graduation this week has been possible because of my EE family: compassionate professors, hard-working students, and supportive staff. I thank them all for the learning experience and companionship. In the past four years, I’ve seen the EE department continue to excel and progress and I can’t wait to see what the department creates in the future—it’s truly a special place to be!

After taking internships in the past just down the road at Northrop Grumman and Boeing, I will be joining Accenture next year as a consulting analyst in communications, media, and technology.  As I leave college and start my career, I’m confident in the journey I’m taking because I know I’ll always be part of a supportive family that is committed to making a positive impact on the world. Fight On!

Ashley Iu is a senior graduating in May. She will be receiving her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and minors in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship. She is the Student Branch Mentor and 2016 Chair of IEEE at USC; after graduation she will take on the role as the IEEE Metro Los Angeles Section PACE Chair and she will be joining Accenture as consulting analyst in communications, media, and technology.

Ashley with her family at graduation.

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