The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019 - 16

Graduate Student Profiles

Emily Hernandez

Gamma Theta
Standford (MS)
IEEE-HKN Outstanding Student
Award Recipient
Editorial Board Member of The Bridge
Emily Hernandez was born in Fort Worth, TX and raised
in Germantown, TN. She completed her undergraduate
degree at Missouri University of Science & Technology
(Missouri S&T) where she graduated Summa Cum
Laude (4.0 GPA) with a Bachelor of Science degree in
Electrical Engineering and Minors in Mathematics and
Cognitive Neuroscience. She subsequently earned her
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Stanford
University. While at Missouri S&T, Emily held several
leadership positions including: Bridge Correspondent for
Eta Kappa Nu; Electrical Division Lead and President of
the Missouri S&T Robotics Design Team; and Secretary
of the Missouri S&T Chapter of the Society of Hispanic
Professional Engineers. She was also an Honors
Academy Fellow, part of the Chancellor's Leadership
Academy, a member of the Society of Women Engineers
(SWE), and IEEE.
Emily's extensive volunteer activities include service
events designed to attract minorities and women to
careers in science, technology, engineering, and math
(STEM). In Missouri, she served as a Student Diversity
Program Mentor, tutored students as a Peer Learning
Assistant in the Learning Enhancement Across Disciplines
Program. In California, she has been a mentor for Third
Street Community Center's Expanding Your Horizons
engineering design program that focuses on introducing
Hispanic students to STEM.

THE BRIDGE

Graduate Student Profiles

Emily worked as a Design Engineer Intern at Garmin
International for two years, and also served as a Signal
Integrity Undergraduate Intern at Intel Corporation
and Design Intern at Molex High Performance Cable.
She has held undergraduate research positions in
the Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory, and
as an Undergraduate Research Experience Fellow in
the Applied Computational Intelligence Laboratory
at Missouri S&T. During graduate school, she held a
research assistantship in the Stanford University Power
Electronics Laboratory. She current works full-time at
CelLink Corporation, a flexible circuit start-up in
San Carlos, CA.

My path to graduate school:
I first considered going to graduate school after
my sophomore year in college. I had spent the
summer interning at Intel, and everyone I worked
with had their Ph.D. I had always assumed I would
complete my BSEE and go into industry, so the idea
of staying in school longer was unexpected. My
mentors at Missouri S&T encouraged me to look into
undergraduate research projects to see if grad school
was a path I could see myself seriously pursuing.
I received funding support from the university to
conduct an undergraduate research project and also
connected with the Electromagnetic Compatibility
(EMC) Lab to work on a signal integrity project with
a team of Dr. James Drewniak's graduate students.
Working with those students and seeing how much
research drives innovation in industry was exciting to
me. As I approached the end of my undergraduate
studies, I also realized I wasn't ready to stop learning
and growing my technical skills and made the
decision to pursue an advanced degree.
Although I was unsure if I wanted to pursue a
career in academia or industry, I applied directly to
Ph.D. programs because I knew they had the best
fellowship funding options, and I wanted to make sure
I was setting myself up for success with either career
path option. The application process involved more
writing than I expected and a massive amount of
research about professors and laboratories at various
campuses. I limited my number of applications to five

and spent as much time as I could trying to find the
right research fit for me. Even with all my preparation,
I still found my interests changing as I met with
professors and research groups during visit days. After
meticulously weighing the pros and cons of my top
two schools, I selected Stanford University, mainly
because I determined the research fit with the SUPER
lab (power electronics) to be the best for me.

What advice do you have for students considering
or beginning graduate study?

As is true for most students, the transition to graduate
school required some adjustments for me. Adapting
my work style to the different pace of quarters versus
semesters and a very different instructional style, along
with balancing research, studying, and social activities
took some time. Fortunately, my colleagues in the
SUPER lab and my faculty advisor were supportive and
helpful in this process.

Second, how you and your advisor interact will have
a big impact on your success in graduate school.
Choosing an advisor should be about more than
just liking the research he or she does. Look for
someone who is willing to invest time in you and
whose personality doesn't clash with yours, as well
as someone who will enable you to pursue your
ideas and not just work on theirs. Talk to some of the
professor's current students to find out what type of
advisor he or she is . If you are more successful when
left alone to work, having an advisor who checks in on
you daily may not work for you.

I applied for the IEEE-HKN Alton B. Zerby and Karl T.
Koerner Outstanding Student Award just prior to my
undergraduate graduation and after I selected Stanford
for graduate school. I was encouraged to apply by the
HKN advisor at Missouri S&T, Dr. Steve Watkins, who
was also one of my letter writers for graduate school.
Receiving the award at the Electrical and Computer
Engineering Department Heads Association
(ECEDHA) meeting provided me with invaluable
opportunities to meet EE department chairs from
around the country. I enjoyed engaging with them,
learning about their programs, and discussing
opportunities to encourage more females and
minorities to pursue EE degrees. I was also given
additional opportunities to represent HKN by attending
events in the San Francisco area, which provided me
with further networking opportunities.

Did you begin your graduate studies immediately
after graduating with a bachelor's degree?
Yes.

How did you fund your graduate study?
In addition to my guaranteed research assistantship
from Stanford, I received a diversity fellowship from
the university that provided extra funding for my first
summer, funds for research supplies, and a diverse
network of other graduate students across the university.

My first piece of advice is to know that graduate school
is fundamentally different than undergraduate studies.
Your job will be your research, you'll take fewer classes
each term, and your grades won't matter as much as
being able to quickly learn the material and apply it to
your research.

Finally, if you find someone whom you want to be
your advisor, discuss your goals and expectations early.
Professors are too busy to try to guess what you want
from an advising relationship.

In hindsight, what do you wish you had done
differently during graduate school?
I wish I had explored options to work with additional
labs. After I selected an initial research project
of interest in the SUPER lab, I let myself be tied
exclusively to that project. I convinced myself that I
needed to make this particular project work with that
particular lab, or that I shouldn't do research at all. As
time went on, and I realized my interests were taking a
different direction than my lab's, I should have reached
out to more professors in different areas of EE to see
if I could find a better fit. Instead, I chose to stop with
my Master's Degree. I don't regret this choice, because
it led me to a job I thoroughly enjoy; however,
exploring additional options may have led me down
a different path.

HKN.ORG

17


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The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019

Contents
The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019 - Cover1
The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019 - Cover2
The Bridge - Issue 3, 2019 - Contents
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