Electrical and Computer Engineering Partnerships (ECEP) 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 ECE 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 ECE 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 ECEP 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 ECE 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 ECEP 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 ECE Department. UCLA electrical and computer 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 ECEP enables company participation in Department-sponsored career fairs, holding dedicated information sessions and workshops, and meeting one-on-one with qualified applicants. For these events, the ECE Department provides space to allow direct interaction with ECE graduate or undergraduate students. Our student organizations, Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) (ECE 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.
Recruiting Associates pay a per-event based sponsorship with the Department, which includes food, audio visual equipment and meeting room arrangements, and advertising to the students.
Joining the ECE Department as an Educational Sponsor is the first step in a continuing relationship between a company and the 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 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 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. ECEP can serve as the gateway to finding the right partners, when either the industry or the UCLA researcher needs such collaborations. 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 a sponsor for our key events, such as topic-specific symposiums and the ECE 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.
Sponsors are also invited to host one informal weekly social event with our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. These events allow for one-on-one interaction between the company representatives and graduate students in a casual setting.
The Educational Sponsorship is annual and includes the benefits of a Recruiting Associate with the ability to hold multiple recruiting events.
As described previously, a company may become a 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 ECE Fast Track to Success Program, who are among the top students in the Department. Students are organized into teams of three or four members with a Faculty member and a graduate student to mentor the team. The Team Sponsor 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 with the ability to hold multiple recruiting events.
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. ECEP hopes to help companies with such interest find the right connection to researchers in the ECE Department. In many cases, companies have broader interests than the research of an individual or center. ECEP intends to maintain the connection with the Research Sponsor 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 Research Sponsor can choose to adjust the supported research on a yearly basis. Proposal(s) are collected from the Department in a solicitation process; and Research Sponsors can participate in the final selection criteria and process. This mechanism provides the Research Sponsor with a broad view of the on-going research in the Department.
To enhance the research interaction, the Research Sponsor may send a researcher to spend a sabbatical period at UCLA with an additional fee. That researcher will participate as an active team member with the Sponsor company, and also 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 with the ability to hold multiple recruiting events.