Susan Burkett

Susan Burkett

The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL, United States
Susan Burkett
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Answers by Susan Burkett

Dear Maryann,

 1.  I chose engineering because I loved science and math but my first major was Civil Engineering because I didn't really understand the differences.  After I took a circuits course, I changed my major because circuits problems seemed like fun puzzles to solve and I started thinking about all of the neat inventions made possible by understanding electricity, magnetism, electronics, digital logic, etc.

 2.  I am a Professor in Electrical Engineering so I guess the answer to that question is ALL OF IT!  My research is in the area of electronic materials so those courses were the most important to what I do in the lab.  However, both undergraduate and graduate courses, helped me understand how it all fits together.  Work experience is important too.  There weren't as many opportunities to do internships like there are now so my work experiences happened after I got a degree not while I was working on a degree.  I encourage students to look for opportunities to apply their technical knowledge to real problems.

 3.  The skills most helpful would be organization skills and time management.  Being a faculty member means juggling teaching, research, and service responsibilities.  Knowledge most helpful has been in the area of electronic materials so that I could excel in research.

 4.  Teaching is very challenging.  It is hard to find a style of teaching that works for all students.  It is rewarding when they respond to your teaching but it is disappointing when they do not.  The most frustrating aspect is watching a student fail my class that has the skill set but doesn't attend or turn in homework.  That is hard to see.

Susan Burkett

1) To be an EE, typically the minimum requirement is a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering. 2) If a student has an undergraduate degree in Physics, one possibility is to apply for admission to a graduate program and ask the Graduate Program Director what remedial courses are required. Typically, programs will require students to take possibly 3-5 courses in the Circuits/Electronics/Signals areas to remedy the lack of background. If a student wants to obtain a second B.S. level degree, they should talk to the Undergraduate Program Director to see what courses will transfer from their Physics degree. It would realistically take the student 2-3 years to complete the BSEE degree because of the large number of required courses in Electrical Engineering.