Electrical Engineering Partnerships (EEP) Program is a newly initiated program that seeks to be a gateway of collaboration with industry partners, so that the partner can synergistically engage in all three aspects of the University’s mission: connecting students with the next step beyond school, educating the students, and introducing innovative research results.
Fig. 1 – Involvement of partner with Research, Education, and Networking.
To help with the industry-student networking and recruiting efforts, we not only want to help our students learn about the corporate mission and opportunities that each partner company offers, but also match our partner companies to students with the best set of qualifications. This connection is made for all levels of students in our pipeline.
Fig. 2 – Overview of various paths for industry to engage with EE Department.
It has been shown that fruitful relationships between industry and University are often multi-faceted. Since our courses educate our students in both fundamental theories and real-world examples, we look to industry in updating design examples to better transition students into industry. Industry leaders and researchers can participate by offering seminars, workshops, lectures within courses, or even an entire course in a specific topic unique to the partner. The partner can also engage with a smaller set of students by sponsoring an undergraduate team honors project, where a technology or topic specific to the partner can be explored.
Fig. 3 – Engagement as an Educational Sponsorship Partner.
The EE Department is one of the top research institutions in the world. For instance, in the area of integrated circuits, our faculty are among the top five most highly cited in recent years. Such research is not done in isolation, but often through government grants or industry support. The role of EEP is to align Faculty researchers and centers with industry interests. Such sponsorship not only leads to early access to the research results, but also, more importantly, guides the direction of research by introducing industry concerns and constraints and provides design methodology and design details beyond that of publications and seminars. In addition to sponsoring specific individuals, the EE Department looks to industry for Departmental Research Fellowships. Such fellowships offer partner companies an opportunity to select yearly from a wide range of research through a proposal process internal to UCLA, specific to their research interests. The partner can mentor the selected student and offer summer opportunities to further the relationship with the student and in some cases continue the research.
Fig. 4 – Engagement as a Research Sponsorship Partner.
LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT
While discussed separately, these three aspects of engagement are highly synergistic where the recruiting effort can be greatly strengthened through educational or research support. To help interested partners navigate these different opportunities, we structure EEP with several levels of membership reflecting differing degrees of engagement. The following sections describe each of the levels: Recruiting Associate, Educational Sponsor, Team Sponsor, and Research Sponsor.
Fig. 5 – Overlapping benefits of multi-tiered sponsorship.
Attracting talented employees is one of the key reasons that companies contact the UCLA EE Department. UCLA engineers are known for their strong technical skills, creativity, and desire to succeed; and, they graduate from our top-ranked program ready to work in multi-cultural global corporations.
Being part of EEP enables participation in Department-sponsored career fairs, holding dedicated information sessions and workshops, and meeting one-on-one with qualified applicants. For these events, the EE Department provides space within the EE Department to allow direct interaction with EE graduate or undergraduate students. Our student organizations, Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) (EE honor society) and IEEE are an integral part of this interaction. These students take steps beyond traditional coursework and laboratories by organizing a host of activities, which include hands-on projects and coordinating company information sessions and workshops.
Associate members pay a per-event based sponsorship with the EE Department.
Joining the EE Department as an Educational Sponsor is the first step in a continuing relationship between a company and the UCLA EE Department. We work closely with company representatives with regular meetings to understand how to best align the company’s interests with the department. This alignment includes, but extends beyond, information sessions or career fairs. It has been shown that companies with more visible presence in the EE Department and deeper involvement with individual students, lead to better recruiting success and information transfer.
As partners, we investigate opportunities for holding workshops, seminars, and guest lectures within our regular courses. We also discuss the research portfolio within the EE Department and match that to the company needs to lead to the potential of research sponsorship. Government grant proposals often benefit from industry-University partnerships. EEP can serve as the gateway to finding the right partners, when either the industry or the UCLA researcher needs such collaborations. EE Department staff will assist in holding these events and meetings.
This sponsorship further includes several places where the partnership is highlighted. We list the partner as being a sponsor for our key events, such as topic-specific symposiums and the EE Annual Research Review. In this review, graduate and undergraduate students present posters and talks describing research and projects. For sponsors, we host opportunities to talk to select groups of the students. We also use part of the sponsorship fee for an Academic Fellowship for undergraduates or masters’ students with high academic standing. Companies can help with the selection criteria and process.
The Educational Sponsorship is annual and includes the benefits of a Recruiting Associate with the ability to hold any number of recruiting events.
As described previously, a company can become Team Sponsor if, through our interactions as Educational Sponsors, we determine that there are honors team projects that are of interest to the partner. These teams are comprised of students in the EE Honors Program, who are among the top students in the EE Department. Teams are organized into teams of three or four members with a Faculty member and a graduate student to mentor the team. The Team Sponsor company can introduce the specifications or parameters of a project and track the progress with a liaison from the company. Each project will extend over two or three quarters. Companies may find that such involvement can often lead to summer hires.
A Team Sponsorship is an annual commitment, and the fee can vary based on the project and its material needs. The sponsorship also includes the benefits of a Recruiting Associate.
A company that supports graduate student research is a Research Sponsor. Many companies have a history of collaborating with individual researchers across many years or are interested in the specific research area of one of our Research Centers. EEP hopes to help companies with such interest find the right connection to researchers in the EE Department. In many cases, companies have broader interests than the research of an individual or center. EEP intends to maintain the connection with the partner to explore these other areas of interest.
Another model of research sponsorship is through a Departmental Research Fellowship. Instead of supporting a single research topic, the partner can choose to adjust the supported research on a yearly basis. Proposal(s) are collected from the EE Department in a solicitation process. Partners can participate in the final selection criteria and process. This mechanism provides the partner with a broad view of the on-going research in the EE Department.
To enhance the research interaction, the company partner may send a researcher to spend a sabbatical period at UCLA with an additional fee. That researcher can not only participate as an active team member with the host company, but also will enjoy the broader academic environment. The Department provides an office and other logistical support during his or her time at UCLA.
A sponsor for Departmental Research Fellowships enjoys all the benefits of a Recruiting Associate.