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Why I do ECE?
Landis Huffman

I found ECE the same way you may find your way home when the thoughts of the day steal your consciousness at the wheel, with your attention finally snapping back along with the deadbolt of the front door. I've driven through life with ever-evolving aspirations and new goals grabbing my immediate attention, yet I've landed in a field which I love; I am now fully immersed in doing ECE. While it often appears that ECE has chosen me rather than the reverse, I do not mean to suggest that fate has directed me as a pawn to an area of study by nothing but chance; I simply mean that 28 years of discovery in no particular direction has a strange and lovely way of steering you to where you truly belong.

A very early discovery was my love and aptitude for mathematics. I was enthralled by math's certainty and freeness from subjectivity, creating a universal language for all peoples and cultures -- a language transcending humanity which can explain the very fibers of the universe. My interest in this language attracted me to all applications of mathematics. By simply exploring what I was naturally drawn to, I began to investigate engineering.

My senior year of high school, I enrolled in a program at Milwaukee School of Engineering to become acclimated with the varied fields of engineering. There, in an activity designed to introduce the practices of ECE, I was tasked with constructing a logic circuit of a car tail light. The circuit would dictate the various light behaviors (on, off, flashing, etc.) based on the state of switches for the turn signal, doors and headlights. In the Boolean dialect of my enamored language of mathematics, I scrawled the circuit in a notebook, and then busied myself with the unfamiliar practice of implementation on a breadboard. As the LEDs of my newly assembled circuit flipped on, a light went on in me as well -- the abstract voice of mathematics had left my head and notebook, and become embodied in this circuit! Like meeting a penpal, my eyes first beheld the physical realization of the logic and math I had conversed with for so long.

I followed these same thrills through Purdue ECE as I learned of applied mathematics and signal processing. I found that the language of mathematics lives within machines. Somewhere between the transistors, bits and bytes, the abstraction becomes incarnate in a true and tangible tool spoken by Matlab and C. As if this weren't fascinating enough, the world can be moved using these tools to train our machines, and I can now be the one to move it!

So now here I stand at the front door of the rest of my life, having drifted this far chasing the allure of my interests. I snap back to attention and realize: to converse daily with my first love is why I do ECE.

- Landis Huffman

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Comments


Interesting. Quite different from how the world sees us engineers. See this Dilbert Cartoon for example. I think we ought to make a video reply to it! -pm



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