EECS Grads are Everywhere

“I can’t think of a day in the twenty-five years since I graduated when I haven’t called upon the fundamental skills I learned in EECS at MIT. It was an excellent education and one that prepared me well for the career I have today.”

Armen Avanessians, '81, Managing Director of fixed income, currency & commodities strategies, equity strategies, and investment banking strategies at Goldman Sachs.

Armen Avanessians took what seemed a typical path after earning his undergraduate degree from EECS in 1981: he gained a Masters degree in electrical engineering (Columbia University) and began his working life designing circuits at Bell Labs. In 1985, however, his career took a different turn when he was invited to join a four-person Strategies group in the currency and commodities division of oldman Sachs.

Today, as a Managing Director of fixed income, currency & commodities strategies, equity strategies, and investment banking strategies at Goldman Sachs, Avanessians describes the Strategist role as “the quantitative and technical heart of Goldman’s businesses.” He notes: “Although finance and electrical engineering are different fields, they both require well-developed quantitative and problem-solving abilities.”

Indeed, a current undergraduate student in EECS at MIT will gain a deep education in engineering skills and principles—supported by fundamentals in the sciences and humanities, as well as communication skills. But that is not all. In addition to opportunities for course study in such diverse areas as synthetic biology, computational photography, power electronics, data communication networks, design and fabrication of MEMS, and cognitive robotics, students obtain hands-on, real-world experience through participation in specially developed activities that combine with a variety of EECS courses.

For example, Professors Daniela Rus and Seth Teller are currently retargeting their existing undergraduate subject, 6.142, Robotics: Science and Systems II, to focus on the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge. The ambitious goal is to develop an autonomous passenger vehicle, capable of driving itself safely through an urban environment amidst other moving vehicles. This will involve intermediate capability tests of increasing difficulty over 18 months, culminating in the actual competition in November 2007.

Professors Rus and Teller plan to offer a graduate companion subject, and form teams of undergraduates and graduate students to focus on various sub-problems of the challenge, including perception, control and planning, providing a very real-world experience.

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