Story in the School of Engineering
Aaron Ramirez '08
Encouragement and year-long design project lead to an exciting career for computer engineer.
Aaron Ramirez, a senior computer engineering student, is busy in his final year, working on his senior design project and looking forward to beginning a career as an associate systems engineer for Cisco's sales organization after graduation.
"It's been a good experience, but it hasn't always been easy," Ramirez says of his tenure here as an undergraduate. "It was rough the first couple of years, adjusting to the heavy workload for engineering students." But along the way, his professors were there to help. A scheduling conflict in his freshman year meant pushing a computer engineering series back. "I was very concerned I wouldn't be able to graduate in four years, but Professor Dan Lewis, who was chair of the department at that time, sat down and worked out a plan for me that made it happen," Ramirez says.
Not one to waste time, Ramirez took extra classes and worked part time at Hewlett-Packard during his sophomore year. "I struggled those first two years with confidence in my engineering skills," and, he remembers with a laugh, "my advisor, Fr. Thomas Schwarz, said he was concerned, too, but he encouraged me to stick it out." It was good advice. Later that year, Ramirez met an alumnus who recommended him for an internship with Cisco.
Ramirez has worked at Cisco for the past two years, developing macro tools to simplify business processes and standardize procedures. His internship has complemented his SCU coursework and played a part in determining his senior design project: developing a software tool for streamlining and securing the university's student evaluation process.
Ramirez says the culminating Senior Design Conference, where students present their yearlong projects before industry members, faculty, alumni, and parents, is a crucial component of the school's education. "It's extremely beneficial to have nine months to develop, test, and implement an idea," he says. "In my new career, I'll be working as the technical lead for sales. I'll meet with customers and supply solutions to their problems. Senior design has given me good training for this, preparing me to design a product and then sell it to the customer."