Gaining Professional Experience

Because of donors to the department’s annual fund, Electrical and Computer Engineering students are now able to access some of the industry’s most important conferences and competitions.  Professional connections and networking are crucial to a successful career, and the ECE annual fund opens doors that might otherwise be closed due to prohibitive costs.

The opportunities to travel are as diverse as the department itself.  Whether it be a trip to the Cornell Cup USA to present a winning invention or to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention to be honored as the best small chapter, these opportunities connect the department and its student leaders to the industry’s luminaries and other networking contacts.

Graduate student Gloria See, who had the opportunity to travel to Capitol Hill last spring to learn more about government research funding and oversight as well as meet with congressional representatives, said, “I think it’s particularly important for people in technical careers to do this.”

In addition to student scholarships and operating support for the department, the ECE Annual Fund helps fund undergraduate students involved in registered student organizations (RSO).  Any RSO can request funding for a member and the awarded support is based on the estimated amount to cover travel and lodging.  It also funds other opportunities, like Ph.D. Candidate Onyeama Osuagwu’s travel costs to the Google I/O conference, on an ad hoc basis.

“With the amount of workshops and presentations [at the conference], the possibility of getting a graduate degree or starting your own company seems like more of a reality instead of just a dream,” said Jonathan Buie, a senior in electrical engineering and the external vice president of Illinois’ NSBE chapter, who attended the organization’s national convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

To learn more about the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering or to donate to the department’s annual fund, visit