William Prince Smith
Class of 2017
Electrical engineering & computer sciences
When did you know that you wanted to become an engineer?
I always knew that I wanted to be an engineer. It was kind of a passion, a goal I had when I was a kid. But I didn’t have the money for college or anything like that, so I decided to go into the military. In the Marine Corps, I was an avionics technician; we worked on combat aircraft and would troubleshoot malfunctions with the avionics electronics equipment. As I performed that job, I grew to love it. So when I got out of the military, I knew I wanted to pursue engineering.
Why did you choose Berkeley Engineering?
I’m a nine-year Marine Corps veteran. After discharging, I went to Orange Coast College, and then I transferred to Berkeley. Berkeley was my dream school, it was pretty much that simple. I knew I wanted to study electrical engineering or something in that area, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out Berkeley was among the top three schools at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I also learned how involved Berkeley is in Silicon Valley and the tech scene, and how responsible they are for the emergence of new technologies in society. So that drew me here. And I liked the campus, it felt really historic. But my main motivator was going to the school that would give me the absolutely best education and the best opportunities in the future.
What do you like most about Berkeley Engineering?
Something that’s unique here, at least for computer science and electrical engineering, is that pretty much every course is hands-on. Not to the extent that they’re just teaching you how to do it, and not the theory. But that every course has multiple projects, so you’ll learn something, and then you immediately have to apply it. In computer science, that’s a huge determiner of your success. In that respect, I feel like it’s the perfect environment for computer science, because you’re constantly applying what you learned. And this also develops your passion for the field.
What are your academic interests?
When I came here I was interested more in the hardware aspects of EECS, more on the embedded systems side. But I did an internship at Boeing this past summer, and it changed my interests a little bit. I was working on satellites, doing software engineering and hardware engineering for satellite communication systems. I realized that I really enjoyed computer science more than hardware design work. Now I’m also looking into computer vision, image processing and algorithmic robotics. Outside of my coursework, I’m learning Open CV, a computer vision framework, and trying to see how I can apply that to class projects.
What are your future plans?
My plans at the moment are to do a fifth-year master’s degree in the area of computer vision and robotics. I plan on committing myself to research next semester and then stay at Berkeley for the master’s, if possible.