California State University Northridge
BS Electrical Engineering
California State University Northridge
When did you know you wanted to become an Engineer?
Ever since I was small, I
liked taking things apart (not necessarily putting them back together
afterward…!). I was very curious to figure out everything, not just the
electronic stuff. It was actually during high school that I
definitively decided that I'd do Electrical Engineering (EE), after a
lot of research. Before that I did explore other career paths. One of
them I really liked was becoming an Astrophysicist.
What is your college experience like in terms of the amount of time you
find you need to study each day?
Basically I feel that I do nothing but studying! The classes keep me
very busy during the semester. Maybe it's because I work. I take a
typical load of about 15 units a semester.
Are you incorporating any work experiences while you are a student?
(include both internships/co-ops and any other jobs you may be holding
while in school)
Yes. I'm enrolled in the
Honors Coop program, currently working at the Vitesse Semiconductor
Corporation. I also worked as an English and Math tutor for several
years, at CSUN as well as my previous community college.
How did you prepare for your college experience?
I didn't really prepare much for college per se. I'm originally from Sri
Lanka. Over there high school is intensive enough that we get the
necessary preparation by default.
Did/do you have a mentor that has helped guide you thus far? (If so,
describe the impact of this person on your education and career plans)
No. I am my own mentor, which is pretty hard
Is there a specialty area you have focused on in engineering? If so,
what is it, and how did you decide on this specialty? Also, at what
point in your college experience did you decide?
Yes, I am planning to
specialize in Communications, in Electrical Engineering. We are expected
to pick a concentration in our third year of the degree. Well my
interests are complicated… I seem to like everything… then again I'm a
technophile and everything from cell phones to submarines to satellites
fascinate me. So I picked communications, which more or less spans all
Is it hard to balance your engineering studies with other college
activities (entertainment, travel, having fun)?
Yes, very much. I lose touch with a lot of the
Do you find yourself studying more in a team situation or alone? Do you
have a preference?
Team situation. I do prefer
the team situation. It's livelier.
What's the hardest thing you have found about your college experience
working toward a degree in engineering?
Financial side. Expenditures are a big issue,
especially since I'm a victim of the 2004 tsunami. Plus, being an
international student, financial aid and scholarships are almost
non-existent for me, which leads to the only option of getting into
What's the most rewarding aspect about working toward a degree in
The knowledge and the experience gained. The more
I learn, the more satisfied and complete I feel everyday.
Do you think you'll continue studying engineering, or do you think
you'll switch to another area? Why?
I think I'll continue to
study engineering. Maybe after I get a master's I would like to do an
Do you have any idea what sort of industry or work you'd like to do when
you graduate? If so, how did you find out about this industry or field?
I'm very much
fascinated by everything communications, so I'm planning to work in that
industry. The company I work at now specializes in high performance
semiconductors for network technologies, and I plan to work for the same
company after graduation.
Do you think you'll want to pursue additional degrees after you complete
the one you are working on? Why or why not?
I'm thinking of doing an MBA, but not immediately
after the current degree. May be after several years of working, I'd try
to come back to school.
Did you think that school will prepare you for the way the work gets
done in the real world?
Um… school lays down the theoretical basis. It's
work experience during school that really prepares you for the real
How many engineering schools did you apply to? How many accepted you?
Two. Both of them.
Did you have a "first choice?" Were you accepted into your "first
Well not really.
How did you decide which college/university to go to?
Since I'm an international student, I chose schools which were close to
where some of my relatives lived. And the cost was also a major factor.
What should high school students be doing to prepare themselves to take
on the work that engineering students do?
I think that the college workload is much more
than the typical high school workload. I would suggest enrolling in some
honors program or taking the AP exams. They will really prepare you, and
may allow you skip several classes in college.