10/15/2021

Illinois ECE alumni are some of the most interesting people we know. To celebrate them, we’ve decided to ask them questions both serious and fun. Here, you’ll find their Ten (sometimes more) Answers.

 

Christina Ernst (BS CompE '19) joined Google Chicago as a software engineer in 2019. She develops experimentation infrastructure for Google Search. As an undergrad Christina was an active member of Women in ECE and Engineering Ambassadors, and she brings her passion for supporting women in STEM to Google.

What was your favorite place to study?

The Grainger Engineering Library, 2nd floor

 What was your favorite ECE course and why?

ECE 120 - Introduction to Computing. The wonder of my very first semester of Computer Engineering, running my own code and building my first circuit, was magical.

Did you have a faculty advisor/mentor while at Illinois ECE? What do you remember most about them?

Lara Hebert graciously took me on for an independent study involving STEM outreach, and I'm so grateful for her confidence in my passion and the direction she provided.

Dr. Marie-Christine Brunet and Dr. Jenny Amos, Engineering Ambassador leads, gave so much of their time and energy to an organization that gave me purpose as an upperclassman.

What was your greatest accomplishment while at Illinois ECE?

I captured two sponsor prizes at HackIllinois 2017 with an e-textile project. It was incredibly rewarding to go up against the competition, which was largely a boys' club, with a bluetooth dress, and come out with awards. The 1517 Fund awarded me a grant which I've used to develop a curriculum of robotics projects aimed at getting teen girls into STEM.

What do you think is the next big idea that's going to change the way we live?

The borrowing economy and owning less, sharing more -- car sharing, home sharing, streaming subscriptions, etc.

What's your favorite technological advancement so far?

After 2020, I'd have to say vaccines!

Why did you choose Illinois/ECE?

Illinois' state-of-the-art labs and highly ranked program, all close to home, made it an excellent choice for my computer engineering degree.

How did your time at Illinois affect your career?

My time as an ECE major exposed me to the sheer breadth of our discipline. There's a wide world of technological advancements just waiting to be made.

Advice you would like to share to current/future students?

Freshmen: don't confuse achievements with raw intelligence or ability. The classmates who brag about building robots their whole life just means they knew which words to Google. You can and will achieve as much as those who brag the loudest once you have the right resources!

What is something you've learned during the pandemic?

Rock climbing! It's very popular with engineers, who love optimizing their routes...because of course we do.

What is the last book you read or movie/TV show you watched?

Witches: The Transformative Power of Women Working Together by Sam George-Allen

 

Christina was a recipient of the Engineering Visionary Scholarship while at Illinois ECE.
Learn more about Christina from her Illini Success Story.


Do you have answers? Email us at ece@illinois.edu, and we may feature you in the future.