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Sarah Mitchell: Undergraduate

Electrical Engineering
Degree Program: 
BS, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics
San Jose
Undergraduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz
Graduate Institution: 
Stanford University
Sarah Mitchell, '19 graduated with a BS in electrical engineering and mathematics

What brought you to UC Santa Cruz?

The two biggest things were the locations and all the opportunities here. It has such a close proximity to Silicon Valley, which I knew would be very convenient and where I could pursue a career very easily. Going to school at UC Santa Cruz makes it very easy to make connections over the hill as you’re a student here. A lot of companies like to come to the career fairs on campus and recruit students. That was a big advantage. Also, it’s such a unique opportunity to go to school in a forest. It’s such a beautiful campus, which is also very motivating. I knew that they had good engineering here because I had heard of the Human Genome Project and I heard that they had a good astrophysics department.

What do you like about the Baskin School of Engineering?

If I could do something different about my education it would be to get involved in engineering teams and clubs early on. We have Formula Slug, we have Amateur Radio Club where you can get hands on experience, we have Slugbotics, the S Lab engineering teams. I really like that at this school they bring students in early. You don’t need experience. There are lots of opportunities for engineers of all backgrounds and levels.

Another great opportunity that Baskin Engineering provides for students is the ability to participate in research. Over the last summer, I joined the Applied Optics Lab under Professor Holger Schmidt. I worked with grad students on microfluidic distributed feedback lasers. These are basically lasers which are made of microscopic channels of liquid, with corrugated walls. My role was to increase the accuracy of our theoretical expectations for how the laser chips behave in the lab. Overall, the goal was to approach a single-mode laser that can be used to detect tiny biological particles. It was an exciting opportunity to be able to contribute my work to actual ongoing research topics.

What’s next for you?

In the next year I will be doing a Master’s at Stanford in electrical engineering. My concentration is going to be focusing in robotics and control. I’m going to try to apply that to some of their aerospace labs, which is what I want to do as a career. I’m very excited for that. Over the summer I’m going to be an intern at Space Systems Loral in Palo Alto. They’re one of the biggest commercial satellite manufacturers. I’ll be doing robotics stuff there too.

What got you interested in aerospace robotics?

I was considering going to an aerospace department but when I came to UC Santa Cruz, we don’t have aerospace so I thought electrical engineering would be pretty cool, too. So I pursued that. I didn’t consider it to be a real possibility until I discovered SlugSat. That opened me up to this whole area of robotics for space applications and needing electrical engineers for satellites. That opened my eyes to all the opportunities there are. You don’t just have to do circuits and all those traditional things you think of as electrical engineering. So I’m really glad I found SlugSat.

What do you do for fun?

I’ve gotten really into amateur radio as a hobby and helping to pass that knowledge down to younger students. I also really like hiking and juggling.