The ECE Family series of short stories is an attempt to provide you with a small window into what it's like being a part of the Electrical and Computer Engineering community at Tufts.
This year was a special year because ABET, the engineering accreditation board that reviews college engineering programs across the country, was making their septennial rounds at Tufts to give us the once-over and make sure the quality of the program here was up to par. The department was eagerly preparing for their arrival. Professors and grad TAs were checking the equipment in labs to make sure they were working. The Senior Design Lab that exclusively senior ECE students get access to was closed off for the weekend, the round table inside covered with thick binders meant for the ABET representatives.
A couple of their evaluators wanted to meet with students majoring in electrical or computer engineering to get some insight into the student experience in the ECE department. We were split into two timeslots, of which I attended the later. At 4:30 pm, the second group filed into the small conference room, where we waited for the ABET reps to come.
I looked around. Most of the room was filled with juniors whom I recognized but didn’t really know because I was studying abroad last semester. A few others were seniors, and these few I really knew not just because they were my year, but because they were a-few-people-out-of-a-class-of-22 my year.
The evaluators came. They introduced themselves, thanked us for our time, and told us that they had some more specific questions in mind already because they already learned a lot from the earlier group. “One thing we heard from the previous group was that this department feels like a family,” he said, looking around as he did so, “and judging from the smiles on your faces, it seems like you guys think so too.”
White, toothy grins were on all the faces around the room. The sentiment was pretty universal, despite everyone not knowing everyone else. When the front office ladies know your name and take the initiative to say hi to you and ask how you’re doing, and when the professors leave their office doors open so you can pop in randomly to have a chat with them or to ask them for advice, you can’t help but feel all warm inside and that people are there to help guide you along your path in life, wherever you may want to go….
I snapped out of my daydream and resumed listening to the conversation before me. There were a few questions on the structure of labs and, totally unrelated, funding available to IEEE, the ECE professional organization. The meeting was soon over, and everyone left to resume the little play that was their daily lives. On my way to the front door, I ran into Miriam, the lady in charge of the front office.
She told me goodnight. I told her, see you tomorrow.