The Bridge - Issue 1, 2020 - 34

Alumnus Profile

Alumnus Profile

Christian also served as the IEEE-HKN president
during his final year at Notre Dame, which was an
enriching culminating experience, spending time
connecting with classmates on a professional level
and growing together as engineers. Christian is
truly thankful to have worked with all of them and
continues to be amazed by their accomplishments
as they embark on their careers.

Christian Femrite

Former HKN Delta Sigma
Chapter President
* Electronics Design Engineer at mHUB
* B.S. Electrical Engineering, University
of Notre Dame
* Significant Career Achievements:
Co-Founded Resonado, an audio hardware startup
reinventing the speaker
Christian Femrite is a recent graduate of the
University of Notre Dame, and in 2017, he
co-founded audio-tech startup Resonado, which
uses Flat Core Speaker technology to make
speakers thinner and lighter than conventional
speakers. In his studies, he earned a concentration in
semiconductors and minors in engineering corporate
practice and actuarial science. He has completed
projects relating to solar energy, nuclear physics, RF
circuits, FPGAs, and acoustic testing.
He has traveled to more than a dozen countries
on five continents, most of them for study or
work, during or immediately after his time at Notre
Dame. These opportunities became some of his
most treasured learning experiences. His passion
is building integrated devices and connecting with
other innovators to design exciting new technologies
that make an impact in everyday life.


Why did you choose to study
the engineering field?
As the son of an electrical engineering professor,
my father taught me how to solder when I was 8
years old, so I think it's always been in my nature.
However, it wasn't until I went to college and took
my first electronics course that I was sure it would be
something I would love as a career. At first, I liked the
challenge of it, but as time went on, I realized that
engineering isn't so much what you're capable of
learning as what you're capable of creating, and the
project work I did in Notre Dame's Nuclear Science
Lab and solar energy research further built my
confidence that I chose the right degree. I enjoyed
every electrical engineering class I took to earn my
degree, and if I had to do it over again, I would
absolutely still choose electrical engineering.

What do you love about the industry?
I love the freedom to create. It's so easy to buy
affordable parts these days, and being a "maker"
is something financially accessible to the average
person. Many other career paths are much more
regimented and don't have the same learning
opportunities. I also love the fact that there is still so
much room for discovery; it's becoming more and
more of a viable career path to start a company. As
we find answers, there are more and more questions
to ask, and I think it's good that it's becoming more
acceptable to work for multiple companies and
projects, and that there's room for originality in almost
any career. Traveling the San Francisco Bay Area as
a co-founder was also illuminating. Every day I met
someone doing something impressive and thinking
in a new way. There's never a shortage of learning
opportunities in the electronics industry.

What don't you like about the industry?
Coming from the viewpoint of someone who
co-founded a hardware startup, I don't like the
bias toward software. Everyone seems focused on
software-based solutions as we push the limits of
Moore's Law, and it's from a widespread perception
that software leads to a quicker profit. The term
"cargo cult programmer" has come to describe the
implementation of code and programming structures
without understanding their underlying design
and purpose, leading to inefficient solutions.
For example, many of my computer science
classmates lamented learning Verilog because it was a
"hardware description language." However, I think the
projects that value good software-hardware integration
will ultimately be the most successful. Building the
best product requires deep silicon and transistorlevel knowledge coupled with solid programming,
manufacturing expertise, and supply
chain management.

Whom do you admire and why?
It was an honor to work alongside some truly brilliant
classmates and professors at Notre Dame. They
are changing the world with their research and
careers. HKN provided me a lot of opportunities
with these amazing people when I was in school,
from advising sessions to serving as a tutor to
attending conferences. There's no other organization
as committed to helping electrical engineering and
computer engineering students excel in their studies
and careers. I also really admire the people here
in Chicago at mHUB. It's doubling in scale every
year, and it brings together amazing people with a
variety of different backgrounds who are all building
and designing some remarkable products. Most of
all, there have been several mentors that guided
me along the way, without whom I could not have
reached this point in my career.

In what direction do you think that the
engineering and other IEEE fields of interest
are headed in the next 10 years?
One of the big topics these days is Industry 4.0. The
themes of connectivity and automation are thrown

around quite regularly. However, one major
change I see is the increasing acceptance and
expectation of formalized continued education,
especially using online platforms. I think that in the
future, more of an individual's problem-solving merit
will come from independent projects than from
strictly classroom learning. With this, there will come
more opportunities to work in a startup or small
business setting because individuals inherently
move faster than corporations. The bigger themes
of the new 2020 decade will also be increased
accessibility, diversity, entrepreneurship, and
interdisciplinary collaboration.

What is the most important lesson you
have learned during your time in the field?
Although it's cliché, never give up. Starting a company
required taking hundreds of "no's" before getting
just one "yes." I used to joke that a good day at a
startup is when you get told "no" politely. With that
said, communication is also important: not just in a
workplace setting, but in terms of broader ideas. Your
best ideas will never come to fruition if you keep
them to yourself-you need a team that will work
with you and pushes to make them a reality. Patent
them. I also think that it is critical to gain exposure to
as many different aspects of the engineering process
as possible, whether that's different products, software
packages, techniques, or reading patents. It's an
especially important part of early career development
to be soaking in new technical ideas constantly.

Finish this sentence.
"If I had more time, I would ..."
Read more and build more-it's too easy to get stuck
in the minutiae of day-to-day tasks and lose sight
of the bigger picture. Without active effort, we end
up putting on blinders-headphones, social media,
streaming platforms-and lose sight of what matters.
Personal and professional growth comes through
exposure to new ideas and experiences, so in a lot of
ways, the issue of time and prioritization is a lifelong
battle we all face. I would also spend more time
outdoors. It's a bit difficult in the Chicago winter,
but I still think about home in Boulder near the
Rocky Mountains.


The Bridge - Issue 1, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - Issue 1, 2020

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The Bridge - Issue 1, 2020 - Cover3
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