Alumni of the electrical and computer engineering program at Lafayette step into a world eager to employ their skills. Jobs in technology continue to draw the brightest and the best, and Lafayette graduates are finding unlimited opportunities in the most exciting tech-driven fields today, including biotechnology, alternative energy development, communications, nanotechnology, robotics, and more.
Companies that employ recent electrical and computer engineering graduates include Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Laboratories, Nuance Communications, SRI International, and Picatinny Arsenal. In addition, our alumni have enrolled in the nation’s most selective postgraduate programs, including those at Princeton and Cornell.
“I wanted to major in engineering, but I wanted a liberal arts college experience,” says Laura Pritchard ’10, former Marquis Scholar, dean’s list student, and Renaissance music ensemble. “I chose Lafayette because it has a respected engineering program yet doesn’t divide the College into separate schools. I was able to take classes not only in music, but to minor in English and mathematics.”
As a network support specialist for an international telecommunications company, Pritchard uses knowledge from her many studies to keep global communications network traffic flowing smoothly. “I really like the fact that my job doesn’t limit me to one skill set,” she says. “I have the opportunity to use both the technical skills and the writing skills I cultivated at Lafayette.”
Pritchard finds additional joys in helping others through her employer’s outreach programs. She assists with United Way, Operation Shoebox (a women’s shelter), a veterans’ group, and inner-city middle schools and high schools.
The electrical and computer engineering major values those opportunities and her employer’s encouragement toward discovering new directions. “I also started a new project that will dramatically improve the way my company uses social media to improve our customers’ experience,” Pritchard adds. “I may work for a large company, but here I am not just one more employee. My ideas have an impact bigger than what I first thought possible.”
Alyssa Batula ’09, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Drexel University, blends science and music to find how humans create. Her goal as a research assistant in the Music Entertainment Technology Laboratory: more lifelike robots.
“Most of us can tell if something is off-pitch, but we’re not sure how we know,” she says. “To program a robot, we have to tell it exactly what to do. So, we look into what is it that we hear that helps us identify beat or tone. In the process, we learn more about how humans perceive music.”
A National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Batula uses digital signal processing and machine learning to “teach” robots to interact with a music ensemble, through dancing or playing an instrument. Batula is also developing a robotic pianist that interprets and responds to audiovisual feedback.
The work combines two interests that Batula pursued at Lafayette, electrical & computer engineering and music; she played French horn in the concert band.
In the future, Batula plans to work in the field of medical robotics. “I’m interested in advanced prosthetic devices that individuals can control,” she says, which could increase mobility for people with handicaps. “The end goal is different, but the methods are similar to our current research.”