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Professional Development Workshop Series

Northeastern ECE's Professional Development Workshop Series provides our students with skills and information that enhance both their graduate program experiences in the department as well as their future careers.

The Northeastern ECE PhD Student Seminar Series (NEPSSS) is complementary to this series.

Spring 2016 events

April: "Public Speaking and Presence Workshop"

With Melissa Healey, Linklater Voice Teacher at Emerson College

Your voice has the power to communicate your ideas, your thoughts, and your vision with passion. Too often though, this passion gets masked by unconscious or limiting habits of tension. We end up hearing the person’s tension, and not their inspired ideas!
If you’ve written a speech or presentation, how do you bring those words off the page (or the slide) and communicate your thoughts with ease and efficiency? How do you engage the ears and minds of your listeners through your speaking voice? Effective communication doesn’t just mean that you are understood, it means that you’ve inspired your listeners – inspired them to take action, to collaborate with you, and to expand their own ways of thinking.
And none of this has to be forced. It’s not about changing your voice. In fact, you already have everything you need to communicate effectively and inspirationally. By discovering freedom in your breath, your spine, and your vibrations, you will be surprised at how easy it is to express yourself. Speaking does not have to be strained or effortful – speaking can be a relief, and in fact this is your birthright!
This workshop will lead you to identify your own personal habits that may be keeping you from an expressive, free and natural voice. You will take away simple warm-ups and exercises to help you prepare for any public speaking event. The ultimate goal of this workshop is for you to leave inspired and reacquainted with a sense of YOUR voice – embodied, powerful, and resonant.

**This is a gently physical workshop, so wear soft and comfortable clothing that allows for free range of movement.

March: “Academia and Research Lab Careers — Panel Discussion & Dinner Networking Event”

Back by popular demand, our 5-person panel encompasses experience in both research labs and academia. How do you select a position that matches your interests, and how does both the day-to-day job and the career path vary across universities, research labs, and general research-oriented cultures?

Affiliations of panel members include MITRE, University of Virginia, Harvard, Northeastern, Technicolor, and Yahoo Labs

“Networking and Informational Interviewing Workshop”

With Sharri Harmel, Associate Director, Career Development Graduate Students at Northeastern University

For PhD’s and master’s students, the need to network is very important, and yet most rarely make networking a priority. Excuses range from lacking the confidence needed to network, thinking that your field doesn’t require networking or a single-minded focus on completing your PhD and not making the time to do anything other than your thesis work.
Networking & informational interviewing work because they are proactive and driven by your initiatives. Both can be an extremely effective way to research career fields, make valuable connections while at the same time, giving you a chance to practice communicating your skills and fit to industry insiders.
In all networking situations, you need your two-minute branding statement. In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore, write and practice our professional branding statements. Next we’ll discuss the value of Informational interviewing, which is a form of networking, and practice by interviewing each other. At the end of the workshop, you leave with more confidence and clarity in how you want to proceed and practice your new networking skills.

Fall 2015 events

November: "Writing your thesis abstract: how to put N years of work into 1 paragraph that reflects your results"

You've spent N years working on your research, publishing papers, and becoming the world expert on your dissertation topic.  This all gets wrapped into your thesis.  Very few people will read your entire dissertation; however, your thesis abstract will be electronically archived, indexed, and found via Google Scholar on a daily basis.  It will be widely read and serves as the single most important discoverable summary of your accomplishments to the entire world.  Future employers, colleagues, and others will generate an opinion of your research abilities based upon this abstract - make it count!  You will leave this workshop with the understanding of and a framework for a thesis abstract worthy of your efforts.

September: "Start-ups - culture, careers, and questions"

Panelists who have been engaged in every phase of the birth and operation of a start-up, in positions from founder to chief engineer, will discuss their experiences in both day-to-day operations and in the larger picture.

Summer 2015 events

June: "Fraunhofer CSE tour"

In June 2015, PhD students from the ECE department visited the research facilities of Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) in Boston, MA.  CSE is a non-profit applied research and development laboratory whose mission is to foster economic development through the commercialization of clean energy technologies for the benefit of society.


Spring 2015 events

March: "Careers In Consulting & Management"

Our event will feature a panel of speakers from local and international strategic consulting firms and from the MIT Sloan school to share their career paths from engineering to consulting, how they find your engineering background to be useful in the position, and particular courses and experiences that you can gain now in order to better prepare yourself for a career in consulting or management.


February: "From Data Reporting to Creating an Argument in Words and with Visuals"

Offered by Neal Lerner, Associate Professor of English and Writing Program Director

Your data are beautiful, sure, but how might you convince others of that beauty? In this hands-on workshop, we will focus on strategies for making an argument with your data, both in written words and in graphs, charts, tables, and other visuals. To prepare, please bring a one-page description of your current project (which might include a figure, but in total keep it to one page).


February: "Workshop for early-stage ECE PhD students, or 'I've survived the 1st semester--what do I do now?'"

A panel of senior ECE PhD students will share their experiences on finding an original research topic, developing their own ideas, and publishing their work.  The panel will also address common questions such as How do I find an advisor? How do I study for the qualifying exam? How do I find an internship?

Although the focus of this workshop is on the questions and concerns of ECE PhD students in their first year study, *all ECE PhD students are welcome to attend.


January: "Giving Technical Presentations: Do's, Don'ts, And Why Nots?"

Offered by Neal Lerner, Associate Professor of English and Writing Program Director

In this workshop, we will cover the essentials of giving technical presentations, including the style and delivery of your speaking, the organization and appearance of your content, and the do's and don'ts of handling questions and answers. Bring your questions, concerns, and ideas to share with fellow ECE graduate students.


Fall 2014 events

November: "Academia and Research Lab Careers - - Panel Discussion & Dinner Networking Event"

Our 6-person panel includes career researchers at several research labs, academics on sabbatical at research labs, and academics who have moved to universities from research labs.  How do you select a position that matches your interests, and how does both the day-to-day job and the career path vary across universities, research labs, and general research-oriented cultures?

Affiliations of panel members include Fraunhofer CSE, Lincoln Labs, MERL, Microsoft, Philips Research, Disney, UC San Diego, and Boston College.


October: "Careers for ECEs in Law - Panel Discussion & Dinner Networking Event"

What can you do with an ECE degree in the field of law?  Becoming an intellectual property attorney is obvious, but there are many more options as well.  Learn about the career opportunities in law firms, in the US patent office, and in the judicial system where you can put your advanced ECE degree to work.  In these environments, you have the opportunity to continually learn about new technologies and breakthroughs while using your critical thinking skills and your technical expertise.  You can also learn about how to attend law school for free (and even while getting paid to do it)!

Panel members include local practitioners of a Boston-based national law firm and Vice President & Assistant General Counsel for a Boston-based international high-tech company.  The majority of the panel entered the patent law profession directly from graduate engineering school (not law school).


September: "Maximum Content with a Minimum Number of Words: Strategies for Writing Abstracts"

Offered by Neal Lerner, Associate Professor of English and Writing Programs Director

Few texts present the challenges and requirements of the scientific abstract: the need to describe your entire study its context, motivation, methods, results, and analysis with an economy of words. In this hands-on workshop, we will discuss principles of abstract writing and practice strategies for maximizing what you want to say with a minimum of words. Bring your writing projects in progress and be prepared to maximize and minimize!

Prerequisites: While not required, it is highly recommended that attendees bring a paper on which they are currently working (workshop, conference, or journal).  Each attendee will use his/her as context to directly apply what he/she is learning in real time.  It is expected that attendees will leave with a developed abstract for their papers.