Steven Xing

Steven XingWhy computer engineering at Penn?

Computer engineering is fun, and I love the flexibility in the major. There isn’t another major where I’d have the breadth of skill to work as a webstack/mobile lead in one PennApps (Skynet Command, S’13 Top 20 overall) and then as an electrical lead a year later at another PennApps (Chirp, S’14 Top Hardware Hack).

What would you say is your favorite computer engineering class?

Of all of the classes, ESE 350 (Microcontrollers & Embedded Systems) and ESE 370 (Circuit-Level Modeling, Design, and Optimization for Digital Systems) stand out. ESE 350 is our hardware engineering class and the class I’m currently TA-ing. The core of the class is to design, implement, and polish an open-ended project based around a microcontroller of choice; there’s quite a wide range of projects at the end of the semester. My project with Patrick Wingo was a system that could detect muscle gestures and issue appropriate commands through electromyographic signal filtering. We wanted to control hardware with gestures and did so by the end of the semester.

In my opinion, ESE 370 is the most intellectually challenging class of the computer engineering curriculum. The level of focus for the class is at the transistor level, and the class depends on your ability to optimize analog circuitry to perform to digital system requirements. Dr. DeHon, CMPE’s program director, is an excellent instructor. 370’s projects have very simple objectives that lead to a great deal of thinking about combinatorial and memory designs. You learn at a very quick pace with very little wasted energy.

How would you describe the computer engineering program to friends or family who aren’t familiar with it?

It’s an amalgam of both an electronics-focused EE curriculum and a CS curriculum focused less on theory compared to the CIS curriculum here at Penn.

What do you think it takes to be a “successful” computer engineer?

I’d say it’s a mixture of intellect, interest, and time. This answer will probably vary highly from person to person, though.

What internships have you done? (Or for seniors, what are you doing next year?)

For my freshman summer, I worked on a crowdsourcing startup that focused on merging statistical quality assurance with crowdsourcing platforms, starting with Amazon Mechanical Turk. My sophomore summer was spent in Mumbai at Forefront Capital Management, where I focused on development of quantitative long/short strategies and implementing high frequency trading algorithms. My junior summer will be with Intel’s New Devices Group.

What other activities do you participate in at Penn?

I’m a board member for both the Architechs – Penn’s hardware hacking club – and the Penn Wireless Club. I’m also the EVP of the Wharton Undergraduate Consulting Club, the PM of the Quantitative investment team for the Wharton Investment & Trading Group (WITG), and a senior member of the Technology, Media, and Telecom investment team for WITG.