EECS Grads are Everywhere

In addition to the entrepreneurial possibilities arising in EECS, students are able to participate in leading edge research in many areas. Examples include Professor Isaac Chuang’s application of the physics of NMR interactions to create ion trap-based computational devices for quantum computing and Professor Saman Amarasinghe’s development of programmable microfluidic chips that in combination with high-level software libraries enable large, complex biological experiments to be executed on a single platform. See the next article: Examples of current EECS is Everywhere research.

Sramana Mitra, SM '85, Silicon Valley strategy consultant

No matter the area, students repeatedly find excitement and discover themselves as they become involved in research groups such as these. Sramana Mitra, SM ’85, is a good example.

“The intellectual joy of solving difficult technical problems that had real-world applications, or solving real-world problems with creative use of technology turned out to be where my sweet-spot was. MIT’s gift to me has been building the confidence in my ability to figure things out.”

Following an undergraduate degree from Smith College in computer science and economics, Mitra became an EECS graduate student in the mid-nineties under Prof. Anant Agarwal working intensively with a group on a parallel computer called Alewife. It was fortuitous that Agarwal was extremely busy working on his own startup. Mitra not only had a mentor who gave her real world exposure to the start up process, but as she puts it, “The environment nurtured a certain confidence in people’s ability to figure things out.”

Two years later, she started her own company and has since started two more. Mitra now continues in Silicon Valley as a strategy consultant with experience spanning hard core technology disciplines like semiconductors to sophisticated consumer marketing industries including fashion and education.

An avid writer who maintains a thoughtful set of writings on her blog, Mitra reflects: “Did I know all this when I started my journey? Surely not. But for sure, my MIT education steered me in this direction in the early years. Today, it has become second nature. It is hard to even look back and see when and where I made certain turns. All I can say is that I value what MIT brought to my life tremendously.”

Despite the burst of the 1990s bubble, entrepreneurship continues as a way of life at MIT—particularly in EECS, where roughly 10% of EECS students start out in the risky, exciting world of start-ups. Within the last few years start-ups by EECS grads span the gamut from airline reservation software to biotech prenatal genetic testing.

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