Hanna Anderson, sophomore, electrical and computer engineering.

Story by Hanna Anderson

As a freshman, or maybe even a sophomore, college can seem a bit daunting. Classes are harder and larger, there are three-hour labs, recitations, financial aid, football games, pressure to start research, Greek life, midterms, new friends and 10 weeks later there’s finals week. All of these events and aspects can pile up and before you realize it, you’re drowning in a first-year mid-term crisis.

As an entering sophomore in electrical and computer engineering here at OSU, I can recommend some resources and tips to help you through the hard times.

  1. Check out the student groups and clubs on campus

Even in college, sometimes it can be hard to make friends, or find people you have a connection with. Joining a student group or club can be a great way of connecting with other people and having some great experiences! I joined the marching band last year, and was given the opportunity to perform in front of the entire football stadium each game, as well as travel to several away games. It was a great experience meeting all the other 200+ members and seeing us all come together for one common purpose.

There are dozens of student groups and clubs on campus, many of which might fit your interests in and out of the classroom. Whether its building rockets, cars, robots, or mobile apps; working on open source software; or even bass fishing, check out the engineering-specific clubs or the many other inclusive student groups at Oregon State.

  1. Students with no previous robotic/electrical experience, HAVE NO FEAR

For those of you who may have no previous robotics or electrical experience, do not be worried. I personally was not a part of the robotics team in high school, nor had I ever had any real electrical experience, and I have managed to survive with very little wear and tear. However, if you are worried, there EECS peer mentors who are more than willing to help you out. Peer mentors are EECS students who can help you navigate the ins and outs of being an EECS student. They can assist with academic questions and are available for advice about classes, internships, clubs, and other opportunities.

  1. Research and internship opportunities

It’s never too early to start thinking about internships and work experience. Having work experience in your field before you graduate will greatly enhance your employability when it comes time to look for a job, but it can take bit of hard work and perseverance. Simply sending an email, or talking to a professor after class, or attending office hours are all great first steps to making your name known. The School of EECS provides students with many opportunities to connect and gain experience. Also, making a connection with your academic advisor is a great way to find out about other opportunities.

  1. Be aware of your physical and mental health

The transition to college may be a hard one, or may be an easy one. It all depends on each individual person. While this is true, it very important to keep tabs on your mental and physical wellbeing. The “freshman 15” is indeed a very real thing, as well as the possibility of declination of your mental well-being. The most important thing to combat both of these two happenings is to be cognitively aware of your decisions, and realize that your brain makes those decisions, and your body carries out those decisions. If either one is not working at its prime, things start to slip. You don’t need to be in crisis to take care of your mental health; make sure you know about Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). The Dixon rec center and OSU’s Recreational Sports have many programs and opportunities for exercise, and relieving stress. Lastly, University Housing & Dining has many healthy eating options to keep your brain and body well nourished.

  1. Get to know your professors

Yes, it may be intimidating to meet with your professors, however they are a great first resource when in need of help. Getting to know a professor may even help you down the road when you are in need of letters of recommendation, and some may even hire you as an undergraduate researcher. Attending office hours is the best way to communicate with professors individually. If their office hours don’t work with your schedule, feel free to send them an email to schedule an appointment.

  1. Seek academic support

Oregon State and the College of Engineering have many resources for students to receive academic support with their class. The HUB in the College of Engineering has study tables and tutors for subjects such as physics, chemistry, math and electrical fundamentals. There are also engineering specific academic coaches who can help with skills such as organization, study skills, concentration, memory, note-taking, test-taking, and time management. Another resource are the academic tutors in the residence halls. Each residence hall will have a math and English tutor each week, as well as an Academic Learning Assistant who holds office hours every week.

  1. Attend class

Yes, it may be a struggle to get up for class in the morning… However, the knowledge that is shared and the connections that are made while attending class can never be recreated, and whether or not you attend class, you will still be held responsible for understanding the material. Some classes even have attendance as part of a requirement for passing. So just to be safe, go to class.

  1. Get to know your advisor

Your advisor will help you make a plan, get involved in extracurricular activities, and advise you about what to do when you are struggling with a class. As a first year engineering student, you will meet with your advisor at least once a term to receive your registration PIN. If you make a good connection with your advisor, they can even help you find scholarships, research positions, and internship opportunities!

  1. Check your ONID/OSU Google e-mail

Or make sure you have them forwarded to other e-mail accounts that you check regularly. This is the only way you’ll receive information from your professors and TAs about your classes and other important information that you need.

  1. Represent your school

Go Beavs!


Hanna Anderson is from Bonney Lake, WA, and attended Bonney Lake High School, class of ’14. As a freshman, she was a member of the Oregon State marching band and joined the CreateIT Collaboratory, a program in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to employ students on projects to develop new prototypes for industry clients.

She is now a sophomore in electrical and computer engineering. She decided to pursue an ECE degree because she really enjoys being able to understand how a piece of technology works, and thinking about how she could modify it to make it better. “ECE is a one big puzzle that I am continually being challenged to solve,” she said.

In her spare time, she enjoys playing the pianos around campus, as well as going into the Collaboratory and engulfing herself in new fun, interesting projects.

Could artificial intelligence take over the world? The question captured the attention of the media this year when Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk spoke publically about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI).

Gates said he is “concerned about super intelligence,” Hawking warned that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” and Musk described AI as “our biggest existential threat.”

Tom Dietterich, president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a distinguished professor of computer science at Oregon State University, has been busy this year giving the academic perspective on the issue for articles, video and radio. He was the plenary speaker at Wait What? a future technology forum hosted by DARPA on September 9-11, 2015.

In an article by Digital Trends in February, Dietterich was tapped for his expertise on the topic:

Dietterich lists bugs, cyber-attacks and user interface issues as the three biggest risks of artificial intelligence — or any other software, for that matter. “Before we put computers in control of high-stakes decisions,” he says, “our software systems must be carefully validated to ensure that these problems do not arise.” It’s a matter of steady, stable progress with great attention to detail, rather than the “apocalyptic doomsday scenarios” that can so easily capture the imagination when discussing AI. Read more

In July, Dietterich was interviewed for NPR’s On Point “Managing the Artificial Intelligence Risk” during which he tackled a question from a caller who argued that robots should be programmed to love.

He responded, “My sense is that we should make a very clear distinction between robotic artificial intelligence and humans. I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about a robot loving anything…Love is a relationship between people.”

When interviewer, Tom Ashbrook, pressed further, saying, “But if one day AI runs the world and does not recognize love…

Dietterich jumped in to say, “We will not let AI run the world… It’s a technology that should be used to enhance our humanity.”

You can listen to or download the entire show from the On Point website. Dietterich’s portion begins at minute 36.

Dietterich was also featured by Business Insider, Business Insider AustraliaFedScoop, Microsoft Research, PC MagazineTechInsiderU.S. Department of Defense; was filmed by Communications of the ACM and KEZI; and has been mentioned in articles by the Wall Street Journal, Tech Times, and The Corvallis Advocate.


Danny Dig

Danny Dig, assistant professor of computer science at Oregon State University, was awarded a Google Faculty Research Award for a project to improve responsiveness of Android apps.

Google selected 113 proposals of the 805 submitted this summer on computer science topics such as systems, machine learning, software engineering, security and mobile.

“The biggest significance of the award is the chance to have strong collaboration with researchers at Google and to integrate our research into large-scale infrastructure at Google that all Android app developers will use in the future. This will multiply the impact of our research many fold,” Dig said. “The monetary part of the award will help me invest into grad students and grow them into world-class leaders.”

Developing tools for Android app programmers is a relatively new line of research for Dig who is a national leader on techniques for transforming sequential code into parallel code.