Student Voices

Bowen Liu, Electrical Engineering

I’m a double major in electrical engineering and philosophy. I like beautiful stuff and intellectual stuff. Newton was a physicist, a mathematician, and a philosopher. Now you don’t see that, but I think those things are compatible. I think there is elegance in the solution to a physical problem, and we need philosophy and ethics to guide us in using our engineering knowledge correctly.

All my classes have all been very useful. For instance, in my integrated-circuit design class, we actually go into a clean room to fabricate devices. Before coming to UCSB, I never thought about fabricating a nanoscale transistor, and I sure didn’t know I’d be able to do that. I’m also doing research with a professor, working on something similar to a quantum device. Before that, I had heard of photons, but I had never heard of a phonon — that’s a vibration — and quantum dots and other things like that. It’s like science fiction stuff, and it’s very fascinating. I don’t think many other schools offer this kind of opportunity at the undergraduate level.

In the faculty research, I work with two graduate students, who are very patient and guide me through things. I could imagine that they might not expect much from undergraduate students, but they sit down with us and explain some basic physics to us. They want us to be able to contribute and to learn as much as we can from doing the work.

Collaboration shows up a lot in our labs, and in the projects that we do every quarter, which involve at least two people, me and someone else. They always involve struggles, frustration, and rewards. We all go through it, and it’s great to have teammates who are going through it with you. It makes you feel more confident and at ease.