A select group of upperclassmen and graduate students in electrical engineering and computer science traveled to California in May to meet up with alumni for a shared “Silicon Valley Experience.” Students toured the headquarters of Bosch, Cisco, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Pariveda Solutions. They also visited the Computer History Museum, saw the San Francisco Giants take on the Cincinnati Reds, and visited the Muir Woods National Monument.
Company reps offered information on job application processes, resume tips, and insight into work life at their facilities.
“It was great to be exposed to so many different companies in a short amount of time,” said electrical engineering senior Sam Brown. “It helped me to realize the extent and variety of the types of projects that engineers work on in industry.”
Students enjoyed a first-hand look at some of the major players in their fields.
—Charlie Rizzo, senior in computer science
“I had an absolute blast,” said computer science senior Charlie Rizzo. “I learned so much from the companies we visited, and it was really neat to be able to see how other UT alumni ended up on the other side of the US, in Silicon Valley, no less.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting alumni and hearing their experiences,” said electrical engineering senior Quillen Blalock. “It was encouraging to hear how UT prepared them for success in one of the most prestigious professional environments for electrical engineering.”
Graduate student Shaghayegh Aslanzadeh enjoyed the opportunity to meet with fellow researchers.
“I got more exposure to different techniques that will potentially optimize my work for the future,” said Aslanzadeh. “Now I can assure my work could get more aligned with future technologies.”
PhD student Mihaela Dimovska agreed. “I got to learn more about the newest technology and software on the market, especially in the area of AI and machine learning,” she said. “This puts my research into a better perspective.”
Computer science senior Surya Manikonda enjoyed the time spent with HP and Google. “It was amazing to look at their products and the technology they were developing there,” she said.
The idea for the trip came from Joel Seligstein (BS/EECS ’06), an incoming member of the college’s Board of Advisors, who hopes to see more UT engineering graduates recruited by the region’s tech companies. Alumnus Mike Dodd (BS/EECS ’95), of Google, funded the trip.
“I love that the Silicon Valley Trip gives students the opportunity to connect with UT alum at some of the top companies in the field—and see that UT grads really can go anywhere,” said Dodd.
Other alumni who participated included Mike Evans at Pariveda and May Lee at Hewlett Packard.
“One or two companies said that they might send recruiters here in the near future, in addition to those that are already hiring our grads,” said Leon Tolbert, Min H. Kao Professor, who accompanied the students.
“It was a great opportunity both ways for us, to expose the students to companies like Google that are global leaders in innovation,” said Brian Shupe, executive development director for the college. “Also, it was a great opportunity for the alums to play a part in recruiting.”
Ultimately, the shared Volunteer experience shortened the distance between the Tennessee Valley and Silicon Valley.