Gabor Temes, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Oregon State University, received the IEEE International Circuits and Systems Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his “contributions to delta-sigma converters, analog filters and signal processing, and engineering education.”
His work has improved technologies like cellphones and medical devices, and his mentorship of more than 100 students has multiplied the impact of his work.
Among his many awards, Temes received the nation’s highest professional distinction for engineers in 2015, when he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was also named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2020.
Temes earned his undergraduate degrees at the Technical University and Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary, from 1948 to 1956, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1961.
Prior to arriving at Oregon State in 1990, he held academic positions at the Technical University of Budapest, Stanford University, and UCLA. He also worked in industry at Northern Electric R&D Laboratories (now Bell-Northern Research) and Ampex Corp.
“Any achievements of mine are largely thanks to the excellence of my students and the support I received from my school and industry over many years,” Temes said upon receiving the award at the IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems.
For the 15th year in a row, Pacific Power has awarded a grant to Oregon State University for engineering scholarships. To date, more than 100 students have received Pacific Power scholarships, which help future engineers obtain their degrees, especially in electrical and computer engineering.
“We believe in the power of education to create a lifetime of opportunity,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power, in an article about the company’s latest round of grants.
Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate head for graduate programs in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has seen how the scholarships provide benefits for his students.
He regularly takes his classes on field trips to learn about the power system equipment at Pacific Power facilities, where employees, including some Oregon State alumni, show students how the equipment operates.
“Our courses in power and energy systems provide a strong foundation to tackle problems that electrical and computer engineering graduates will encounter in the utilities industry,” Cotilla-Sanchez said. “Partners like Pacific Power are instrumental in translating the application of, for example, power system protection concepts, by facilitating co-curricular activities.”
Jeffrey Chu, a postbaccalaureate computer science student at Oregon State University, had a perfectly fine career as an attorney. After earning a law degree in 2016 from the University of Texas at Austin, Chu worked first as a felony prosecutor, then as a civil litigator.
He liked his job but came to realize that it wasn’t his passion.
Outside the courtroom, Chu’s time was occupied not only with preparing his cases, but also with a ton of monotonous data entry tasks.
“The worst was tracking billing hours,” he said. “I had to keep track of what I was doing every six minutes.”
Chu, who lives in Houston, was working every weekend and didn’t get many days off. In order to make better use of his time, he decided to teach himself to automate some of the mundane tasks. That’s when he fell in love with programming.
Around the same time, one of Chu’s friends completed a six-month coding boot camp and told him about job offers he had received, which motivated Chu even more to make a career switch. Though he could have chosen to attend a boot camp, Chu researched his options and decided he needed a computer science degree.
“I thought the best opportunity for me was to pursue a CS degree, to get a strong foundation and give myself more time to absorb the concepts,” he said.
The degree and the foundation, Chu believed, would help him develop a career as a software engineer, not just a coder. He also realized that a computer science program would give him the opportunity to pursue internships, which would in turn give him an advantage in obtaining a full-time job.
Making an informed decision
Chu dove in to researching online computer science programs.
“One thing you learn in law school is the ability to look for things and do it efficiently,” he said. “So I was pretty confident in my ability to make an informed decision after I did all my research.”
Chu liked Oregon State’s program because he wouldn’t have to take, or retake, core curriculum classes. He could dive in to computer science classes right away. He also perused LinkedIn and found that Oregon State alumni had jobs everywhere: big tech companies, small companies, and startups.
What really convinced him to choose Oregon State was the online community he found in the student-led Slack channel, where anyone can ask questions and many will share their perspectives. Students and alumni constantly interact over a wide range of topics — including classes, interviews, career choices, and professional development opportunities.
“There were great reviews about the program there,” Chu said. “And people were so helpful, building each other up and giving advice. Other programs I looked at didn’t have that sense of community.”
A funny thing happened on the way to a degree
Though Chu quit his job as an attorney to become a full-time student in 2020, he landed a full-time cybersecurity job in 2021, while still pursuing his computer science degree. Chu thought cybersecurity would be an interesting path, and a friend connected him with another friend who worked in the field, who ultimately offered him a job.
Chu has since decided that cybersecurity isn’t the field for him. He anticipates graduating in December 2022, two years after beginning the program. In the meantime, he recently finished an internship at Amazon in Washington, D.C., and is currently on a second internship at Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.
“I’m the type of person who just likes to try multiple things and see what sticks,” he said.
Jeffrey Chu’s interview tips for career-changers
Even before he started the online postbaccalaureate program in computer science, Jeffrey Chu was a fan of the student-led Slack community. During his time at Oregon State University, Chu has been an active participant in the channel, including the following, his contribution to a recent discussion about getting through a technical interview.
To give you some perspective and to contrast with some stories here, my very first tech interview went well and I got an offer for an internship after. My first year at OSU I had major imposter syndrome and didn’t apply to any internships so I was pretty stressed going into this year’s internship recruiting season as it will be my final one (hopefully). I think I owe my success to mostly luck, but there are some things I did to reduce uncertainties.
Get familiar with the interview process.
Essentially, know how the interview will go. (Will it be purely behavioral? Two tech questions, one behavioral? Only tech questions?)
There are a lot of anecdotes from people who have interviewed with some companies in the past if you do some research online.
Reach out to people you may know who work for the company.
Being older, leverage the professional network you have already built.
Even if that person doesn’t work in a tech role, they can probably put you in touch with someone who does to get some insight into how the interview may go or what it’s like working there.
Do Pramp/mock behavioral AND technical interviews.
Practice doing LC-style questions while speaking out loud while someone watches over you and judges you. When I did my first mock tech interview I floundered on an easy merge intervals question just because I wasn’t used to the pressure.
Behavioral wise, practicing the STAR method out loud is much more difficult than in your head.
It’s not always about getting the right/optimal answer on tech questions.
Interviewers want to see your thought process, how you bounce back from setbacks, and how you take direction.
Sometimes you have to get the right answer though.
Students in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, along with their family and friends, commemorated their graduation during the school’s graduation celebration on June 10, 2022.
“Our last in-person celebration was in 2019, so it was great to see how happy everyone was to watch the students walk across the stage and be recognized for their achievements,” said Gaulke Professor and School Head Tom Weller.
Oregon State University alumna Nadia Payet, who earned a Ph.D. in computer science in 2011 and is the Senior Engineering Manager for Navigation on Google Maps, shared words of wisdom for the graduates.
After losing her younger sister to cancer in 2017, Payet changed her outlook on life and offered three lessons:
Figure out what you want. It’s not what your parents or society wants for you. After her sister died, Payet shifted her focus from solely building a career to building more meaningful relationships. “I still love the successful career,” she said. “Because I listen more carefully now, I’m just a more human leader; someone who truly cares and puts her people first.”
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. She urged the graduates to pretend they don’t have all the time in the world to get things done. “I remind myself that we don’t have forever, so let’s make today count,” Payet said.
Lead with empathy and kindness. “Leadership is taking care of yourself, and empowering others to do the same,” she said, and advised the audience to practice gratitude as a path toward leading with empathy and kindness.
The graduation celebration also recognized faculty, staff, and students with awards.
Outstanding Staff Member of the Year Awarded to Calvin Hughes, assistant director for graduate programs, this honor is given to an individual who goes above and beyond their duties to help students. They always have an open door for questions, even with work sprawled across their desk.
Innovative Teaching Award This award is presented to a faculty member who brings a new edge to the classroom. These individuals make learning fun and help enhance students’ understanding of the material through new techniques. Instructor Rob Hess received the award for computer science. Professor David Allstot and Senior Instructor Roger Traylor both received the award for electrical and computer engineering.
Faculty of the Year Computer science professor Mike Bailey received this award which is given to a faculty member who inspires students both inside the classroom and out. The passion and pride they take in their teaching and their subject matter is evident in everything they do.
Sophomore of the Year Julian Henry was the recipient of this award from Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society for electrical and computer engineering students.
Undergraduate Learning Assistants of the Year Computer science students James Taylor and Andrew Kamand took home these honors. Taylor, who was among the 2022 graduates, was a learning assistant for multiple classes. Kamand, an online postbaccalaureate student in computer science, served as a learning assistant for an Introduction to Databases course.
EECS Outstanding Dissertation Award Shashini De Silva, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, received this award for her thesis, “Secure Data Analytics under Data Integrity Attacks.” De Silva was advised by Assistant Professor Jinsub Kim.
Robert Short Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year This award, established in honor of Robert Short, was a professor of electrical engineering and the founding chairman of the computer science department, to encourage students to consider a career in academia. Shane Allen, a master’s degree student in electrical and computer engineering, was the recipient of the award.