Sunday, September 27, 2009

ECE at Queen's

Michael Holtstrom (formerly Wood)
Sci '03
Computer Engineering

I'm proud to be a graduate of ECE at Queen's. I came out of undergrad in the middle of the tech-bust, and jobs were hard to find. Thankfully, I was able to continue at Queen's and complete a Masters, after which, in a more favourable market I easily found work as a software developer at Entrust in Ottawa.

The majority of my time is spent developing a legacy enterprise C++ product, literally a frankenstein code-base that has lived though fifteen years and seen scores of developers. In my first four months at Entrust, I was totally useless. I learned a lot at Queen's, but not specifically what was needed in my role at Entrust (very good C++, knowledge of crypto, and standards like X.509, ASN.1, PKCS11). This is inevitable.

What the ECE program did give was me as a broad survey of the field so that I could be confident about what I wanted to do with 35% of my waking hours (i.e. software development rather than circuit design) and a core understanding of the building blocks of the field so that the learning curve in future specific roles would be surmountable.

The ECE program at Queen's is hard work. There is no substitute for four years of solving really difficult problems. This shaped my mind. It gave me the faculties and the confidence necessary to excel at difficult, technical work, regardless of it's specific nature. I can't tell you how much I value that. And finally, Kingston, Queen's and the Engineering department is a great way of life. The only thing I value more than four years of hard work on hard problems at Queen's ECE is the people who went though it with me.

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