Theodora Chaspari

Theodora Chaspari

Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University


"Multidisciplinary partnerships between electrical engineers and scientists from various fields have resulted in products and capabilities beyond the wildest dreams: self-driving cars, voice-enabled technologies, 3D printers, big data tools are commonplace realities that can help address challenges in healthcare, education, economy, and commerce."

THEODORA CHASPARI


Why Electrical and Computer Engineering?

Electrical and computer engineering is a fascinating field of study, though not many people know exactly what electrical and computer engineers do. That was the case for me in the beginning of my undergraduate studies. I didn’t know what electrical and computer engineering was all about, but being good in math, I was advised by my teachers to follow this path. The first years of college were interesting, but still things remained vague, since the curriculum involved a lot of math classes. But at the end of my third year, I took my first signal processing class. In the introductory lecture the professor explained all the amazing applications that signal processing has to offer, ranging from speech recognition to image enhancement and brain activity monitoring. This fascinated me! After that I was able to take an undergraduate thesis with the same faculty, Dr. Petros Maragos, and this gave me the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at USC.


How Electrical and Computer Engineering Uniquely Address the World’s Problems

The intellectual rewards stemming from solving a mathematical problem are one part of the equation of being an electrical and computer engineer. My PhD advisor, Dr. Shri Narayanan, was the person to help me realize that there is also a second–and most significant–part in this equation: this lies in the moral rewards that come from benefiting society and improving people’s lives.

The fields of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computing in general have lately been through enormous technological transformations. Multidisciplinary partnerships between engineers and scientists from various fields have resulted in products and capabilities beyond our wildest dreams: self-driving cars, voice-enabled technologies, 3D printers, big data tools are commonplace realities that can help address challenges in healthcare, education, economy, and commerce.

As an electrical and computer engineer, I was very fortunate to be a small part of these innovations during my PhD. With the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Shri Narayanan, and Dr. Gayla Margolin from Psychology, I worked on novel signal processing techniques that can be applied to address real-world problems in the domains of child and family development, potentially furthering the knowledge on fundamental research problems related to human behavior. After the PhD, I feel very fortunate for being able to still work on these problems for addressing issues on physical and mental health and having the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from all over the country in trying to accomplish that.


Advice for Current and Future ECE Students

I would have never imagined a better place for my graduate studies other than USC! Located in the heart of Los Angeles, USC provided the perfect balance between a stimulating academic life and fabulous leisure activities. In addition to that, the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at USC provided abundant resources, related research talks, world-known researchers, research funds, and very collegial departmental support.

If I were to choose again, I would definitely go back to USC to re-do these wonderful seven years of graduate school. And if I were to do something different, I would get more involved in the ECE community by exchanging research ideas with more people from the department and outside and I would hesitate less in reaching out to other researchers during conferences and asking more questions during research presentations.

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