Antonio Souza opened the door to being a PhD student through the MS-EE program

Antonio Souza had an extensive background in engineering prior to being admitted to the MS-EE on Coursera program. He has been a course facilitator for the program since spring 2021. Antonio has a background in Embedded Systems and has been accepted to CU Boulder’s Ph.D. program in Photonics & Quantum Engineering.

When did you enroll in the MS-EE on Coursera program?

Mid – 2019

Were you in the non-credit version prior to enrolling in the for-credit version?

I took some not for credit courses then I transfer to for credit when I am sure I can finish in 8 weeks. This is a good thing because then if you find out in the middle that you cannot finish, then you do not have to withdraw. The first class I took was in the Sensors specialization.

What was your educational and work experience background before you enrolled in this program? 

Before enrolling, I was a supply chain manager at Pratt and Whitney, an aircraft engine manufacturer. I worked in a facility that made maintenance for those and I was responsible for bringing in the materials, planning the production, and making sure the supply chain worked. 

I had some technical experience in the beginning of my career because I was an aerospace engineer. For the first 5 years, my work was more technical but then there were some financial incentives to veer towards supervision and management positions. 

What attracted you to this program in the first place (e.g. faculty, curriculum, performance-based admission, Coursera platform)?

I was interested in enrolling in the MS EE program because I wanted to get back to the more technical side. 

I picked this program over the others because I liked the performance-based admission. 

How did you learn/hear about CU Boulder’s MS-EE on Coursera program? 

I think it was on Google, I was looking at Universities that had similar programs and decided on this one. 

Can you tell me how the MS-EE on Coursera program fits into your life? 

It is tough when you are working to adjust your schedule, and when you have kids, it is even more challenging, but I left my previous job and focused on this. I was looking for other jobs and then the opportunity for a PhD came up and for me I think it is the best time to do it. All my kids are grown up and moved out, so I do not have to take care of kids and our financial situation is better. I have a lot of life left to live and I do not agree with the concept of retirement. I think if you do not challenge your mind your brain shrinks. My brother retired and he is bored. You meet a lot of interesting people and learn a lot while working. If you stay at home, you lose a lot of this interaction and learning. 

What are your favorite parts of the program (e.g. Favorite classes, projects, faculty members, etc.)?

The field programmable gate arrays part was really interesting, it was a new concept on how to do stuff. Programming hardware instead of software is interesting and you use the device to do that. 

Power electronics was very well organized. I like that the professor follows his textbook, so you have a good reference and don’t have a patchwork of different stuff that you have to work hard to connect. I like the textbooks because there is a beginning, development, and end and can connect everything. 

What do you hope to do with your MS-EE degree?

I hoped to get the full knowledge and a deep understanding of electronics and then find a job. Now that I have chosen to continue to a PhD this might change, I will see how research is and how academic life is and compare and decide to get a job or go the university way. 

What benefits have you seen?

You learn a bunch of technical things and I got a job teaching at a Community College here because I have taken these MSEE courses. Now I am leaving the teaching because of the PhD program but I will keep going once a week to help with the students in the robotics club that is a part of the CU space grant as they are simulating a rover that would go to Mars. 

Would you recommend this program to others? Why or why not?

I would recommend this program, but they would have to work hard because many answers they would have to find by themselves because the professors, lectures, and material give you a direction, but you have to go after it yourself. It takes time and it takes effort. 

What’s 1 tip you have for students who are starting?

I interacted mostly with course facilitators. I think students do not take advantage of the office hours. You save a lot of time, sometimes you get stuck in something on your own and they can clarify stuff in minutes. 

Expect it to take more time than the website says to complete the homework and studying on your own.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I saw a lot of older people in the program which is a good thing. Even some people who have kids out of the house and I think this program was a good thing for these people because it is easier to balance.

What made you interested in getting a PhD?

A lot has to do with the challenge. Now, during the summer, I am doing some work here in the lab and studying some stuff my advisor has given me to hit the ground running in the fall. 

What was your study style for the classes?

I watch the video, then review the slides, then do the homework, and watch it again. Usually, I think I watch it once or twice. I will go back and forth between the homework and slides. I also sit and focus just on that, if you try to multitask while doing it, it will take 3 times longer to do. 

The post Antonio Souza opened the door to being a PhD student through the MS-EE program appeared first on Coursera Blog.

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