Destination UE

Engineering Students Succeed with Personal Attention and Individual Projects

“When I decided I wanted to become a professor, I knew UE had the environment I wanted for my career.”

Christina Howe

Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Finding the right environment for a teaching career

Christina Howe grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and graduated from University of Evansville in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering before attending graduate school at Vanderbilt University. In 2009, she decided to return to UE as an assistant professor of electrical engineering because she enjoys the small school culture and one-on-one interaction students have with faculty. Since becoming a faculty member at UE, Howe has served as the UE chapter IEEE advisor and SWE co-advisor as well as served on the board of directors for the Indiana Girls Collaborative Project. Currently, Howe is the UE affiliate director for the Indiana State Space Grant Consortium (INSGC). With a grant through the INSGC, Howe is able to bring high school girls to campus for a day of learning about engineering once a year.

Close relationships between faculty and students

Howe finds that close relationships between faculty and students is incredibly important in higher education. The opportunity to be a mentor, a tutor, an advisor, and a friend to her students is her favorite part of working at a small university. By working closely with students on projects and engaging with students outside of class, she gains insight into their personalities, their interests, and their strengths. She helps her students with job applications and internship references as well as writes many recommendation letters. She works with student-athletes and international students to ensure they meet their academic requirements as well. Howe also ensures that her students have the opportunity to study abroad during the fall of their sophomore year when they take an upper level math course, an engineering course, and British Studies.

Individual capstone projects

Howe teaches the electrical and computer engineering senior capstone class, which involves instructing students on aspects of politics, ethics, and communication within the electrical engineering field. She also oversees each student as they complete a senior project under the advisement of other professors in the department. Most students complete an individual project, however, they can complete a project in a team of two. This opportunity is unique to UE as a small institution as the majority of engineering schools ask students to complete large team projects. Students have developed robots that climb walls, robots that shoot nerf darts at a target, firefighting robots, and auto-lighting systems. One student, Tommy Wolf, developed a Self-Sustaining Hybrid Energy Storage and Motor Drive System and has received a job offer as a nuclear engineer in the Electrical Division at the Naval Shipyard located in Norfolk, Virginia.

Liberal arts impresses employers

Howe appreciates that at UE, students receive a liberal arts background in addition to their rigorous electrical engineering course work. They are free to pursue additional interests in fields such as music, theatre, and business. Most employers tell Howe that UE graduates from the electrical and computer engineering program excel compared to other graduates from Indiana schools. They find that UE students can hit the ground running without additional training due to the intense curriculum and high project participation combined with liberal arts. Her students have gone on to work at Intel, Microsoft, and NASA while others attend graduate school.

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