Finding Community through Shared Experiences
One of our newest alums—Keerthana Prasad—shares the challenges, opportunities, and community she found as a student in ECE as she reflects on her past and future path as she pursues a career with Caterpillar Inc in Illinois.
May 14, 2021 Keerthana Prasad, B.S. EE 2021
Ms. Prasad served as the 2020-21 President of the ECE Student Ambassadors, served as Vice President of the Engineers’ Council, and was the Student Recruitment Officer for the Society of Sales Engineers at NC State. She participated in a co-op program with Caterpilllar Inc. and joins them in Illinois as an Associate Engineering within their Engine Electronics team.
Well, here we are, the end of a semester. We finally made it. Although, for us graduating, this isn’t exactly how we pictured celebrating the end of our undergraduate careers. We worked hard to get to where we are today. Some of us have been looking forward to this moment since our first class on campus – I know I have been. Although, I didn’t always know this would be where I’d end up – about to graduate from NC State with a shiny new engineering degree. Personally, when I was a kid, I never thought I’d be an electrical engineer and I’m sure some of my classmates have had a similar experience. But as we grew up, we re-evaluated our goals and the impact we’d like to have on the world.
Take now, for example. During the pandemic, engineers have been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology advancements. Airflow sensors used in ventilators, respirators, and oxygen concentrators were made by engineers. Engineers have continued to maintain power grid systems so medical equipment won’t fail. Without these sensors and power systems, how different would this pandemic be? These are just a couple of the impacts that we as engineers can have globally. As new engineers, we can continue making these impacts on a local or global scale – we just have to keep following in the steps of those who came before us.
We’re already a unique class as is, but now, we have the invaluable experience of being the “pandemic class”.
We’re already a unique class as is, but now, we have the invaluable experience of being the “pandemic class”. We have been entirely virtual for a year and a half now and many of us completed an entirely virtual senior design. No other class will have an experience like ours, and we can use this to our advantage. We can take our time and reflect on what can be done to make the experience better. But first, we should celebrate all the hard work. We have been challenged and pushed throughout our entire college career and now we can look back on our time at NC State fondly.
Each challenge we have faced has not been without its rewards though. I remember being so frustrated with my first breadboard project in ECE 212—our Fundamental Logic Design class. Many of us spent hours in Hunt Library just fidgeting with wires – checking and rechecking the pins to figure out why the circuit wasn’t working. But the best feeling was when we’d finally see those LEDs turn on after we’d been staring at the circuit so long that everything began blending together. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of late nights in the library, whether that be Hill or Hunt, studying with friends, or working on a project. You probably could’ve taken a lap of the library floor and seen at least two other people working on the same thing as you were. There was always a bit of comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling and that if need be, my peers could help me. From ECE 109 to ECE 485, that sense of community motivated me over the past four years. Everyone in the department always seemed so supportive of each other – for example, more often than not, if you asked someone in your class a question, they’d readily help. I found that joining an ECE organization only amplified that sense of camaraderie.
In particular, the ECE Ambassadors provided me, and many others, with a great group of friends for my college career. From volunteering for recruitment or social engagement events, we met so many people that were like-minded and taking the same classes as us. Being an Ambassador really gave me the opportunity to make many friends within our department, some of which I’m sure I’ll know for years to come. It’s not to say that the ECE Ambassadors is the only organization or even the only way to make friends within our department—every ECE organization provided us with a great way to get involved and meet new people. Our classes and labs allowed us the opportunity to meet our friends that we’d study with for pretty much every class.
Now is the time for us to cherish all the memories we made in EB2 and be proud of everything we accomplished.
Over the past few years, we have all grown closer as a class with each and every struggle. Now is the time for us to cherish all the memories we made in EB2 and be proud of everything we accomplished. Although we’re graduating, our sense of community will continue with us as we take the next steps in our lives.
After graduation, many of us are heading down different paths. Some of us will be entering the workforce, going to grad school, serving our country, or traveling. No matter our next steps, we’ll be making a difference as engineers and people. Personally, I’ll be joining Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, IL where I’ll start my post-graduation career as an Engine Electronics Engineer. I’m sure we’re all eager to begin a new chapter even if it may not be what we expected. Every path taken from here is one we, as a class, will all be proud of. As we trip and stumble, someone will be there to pick us up again and that’s what it means to be in this community. A part of the ECE department. A part of the Wolfpack forevermore.
I want to thank all our peers, professors, ECE staff, and administration. This department wouldn’t be what it is without you all, and we really appreciate it. Thank you for everything you have done to better our experience and education: For giving us a place that we have considered our second home – where we had many sleepless nights studying and laughing with our friends; For giving us a place where we could meet some of the best people that we’ll know for a very long time.
As we reflect on our time here at NC State, we can say it’s been unique and completely unforgettable. Our classes have challenged us and encouraged us to broaden our horizons. With these unprecedented times, we’ve learned to adapt to the situation and make the best of it. Together, many of us started this journey in the Hunt Library Auditorium as Dr. Bob Evans taught us assembly language. Now, we conclude our undergraduate careers and forge our own paths as we embark on a new adventure.