One of my earliest memories is of asking my father to teach me how to build a robot.

I was home schooled all the way through high school - a blessing, because it allowed me to take life on at my own pace and ask to learn certain things beyond just the normal curriculum.  I was five or six years old when I found myself browsing the local library's nonfiction section, pulled out a gray-colored book with a robot on the cover, and demanded my father help me learn the contents.  It wasn't, of course, anything impressive, just a basic introduction to the concepts of motors and sensors and robots in general, but I was only five or six years old at the time, anyway.

Around the same time, I also came up with the idea of creating pills with small medical robots inside (my parents had to dutifully inform me that these robots would have to use nanotechnology to function, due to size constraints) - these robots would perform lab tests, surgeries, etc. from the inside out, so surgeons wouldn't have to cut inside in risky procedures that could end up in death.  I also thought these robots would enable us to be immortal, and that I'd be the CEO of the company manufacturing them by the time I was 11, so obviously I'm a little behind schedule (but can you blame me?).

As a freshman in high school, I earned an "A" in MIT's online "Circuits and Electronics" course (6.002x), and went on to audit the next course in the sequence as well (6.004x, which touched on coding and information theory).  I found myself particularly fascinated by Huffman encoding and went on to read Richard Hamming's Introduction to Coding and Information Theory (and subsequently bored my family to death with talking about minimum Hamming distances, Huffman encoding trees, and quantum encoding using encryption keys).  While touring colleges, I sat in on an especially intriguing lecture on channel coding theory by UCLA's Dean Richard Wesel - and knew immediately that I wanted to come to UCLA and major in electrical engineering.

My absolute favorite part of being at UCLA is being involved in IEEE's UCLA student chapter, the premier electrical engineering club on campus.  If you asked me what exactly about IEEE makes me love it so much, it'd take forever to form a coherent answer, because the truth is I love everything about it.  The people, the work, even just being in the lab physically - there's nothing better than spending a day in lab.

I'm really excited to have participated in two different parts of IEEE.  Aircopter Project, in which teams of up to four people work to build a four-rotor drone: create a circuit schematic, design a printed circuit board (PCB), choose our parts and solder them on by hand in the lab, and then assemble and program the quadcopter using C++.  ...and General Board, where I'm a part of our (amazing) Projects Manager's team, which works to plan and execute new ideas for new IEEE projects, workshops, and lectures.  Whether it's getting my hands dirty soldering, pouring in hours at a time polishing PCB designs, or spending time with the best people I've met at UCLA, IEEE is an absolute paradise.

UCLA's IEEE chapter also puts on the IDEA Hacks hackathon, as collaboration with UCLA Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity.  In 2019, I had the pleasure to attend IDEA Hacks for the first time - 36 hours of designing, building, and programming an idea into existence.  My team was amazing and although our project was proof of concept, I'd still like to build the real thing someday: a programmable, rollable mat with pressure sensors that can simulate any number of musical instruments - a piano keyboard with the pressure sensors programmed as keys, a drum set programmed so the pressure sensors create pads, a violin where you can run your fingers along the mat to create a more realistic simulation of a string instrument than a normal electronic keyboard allows.

I also had the opportunity to attend UCLA SWE's Evening with Industry networking event for the first time in 2019.  Being able to talk to company representatives about what they're up to was absolutely fascinating - from Maxim Integrated's semiconductor technology to L3's work in satellites, electric ion propulsion systems, and more, I know I would absolutely love to be a part of the engineering world and all of the incredible things engineers are accomplishing today.

If you would like to be in touch, please consider sending me an email at - my resume is available upon request.

my absolute favorite thing about UCLA is participating in IEEE's student chapter.

my engineering


© 2019 by Alethea Sung-Miller.

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