Allen Xu enrolled in the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MS-EE) on Coursera when it was first announced in May of 2019. He started this learning journey by taking the non-credit version of Professor Won Park’s Semiconductor Device course. We asked Allen a series of questions about his experience with the program, and hearing his answers can help you see what you can do with performance-based admissions.
What do you think of performance-based admission?
Performance-based admission gives someone like me, who had the right work experience and motivation, but didn’t study electrical engineering at the undergraduate level—the opportunity to get a master’s degree in the subject.
What was your relevant experience before you enrolled?
My background is in mechanical engineering with experience in III-IV compound semiconductor manufacturing. I worked mostly with electrical engineers on process development and integration.. I gained the necessary knowledge through hands-on work experience, on-the-job training, as well as studying by myself. At some point, I realized my knowledge was fragmented and needed structuring. Taking graduate-level courses and studying for exams was the best way for me to consolidate and validate my understanding.
What attracted you to the program?
The course content provides the structured learning I needed. I really like the professors and course facilitators, as well as the highly flexible schedule that I can tailor to my own timeline and goal.
How does the program fit your life?
When I started, I was a part-time student. I studied about eight to twelve hours per week with a full-time job. After I figured out how much time I needed to study and finish the degree. I realized there was an opportunity for me to level up my career. So I planned out my schedule, I stopped working full time for about seven months and focused on completing the degree and finishing the courses.
What are your favorite parts of the program?
My favorite course is Active Optical Devices, for which I’m currently serving as a course facilitator. The course is one of the reasons I decided to pursue the degree on a full-time basis.
What have you done with your MS-EE degree?
With my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I learned that a master’s degree in electrical engineering makes me stand out in a pile of resumes. I believe it opened career doors. I got an internship before graduating, and three months later, I got hired for a full-time position.
What do you recommend to other learners like you?
If someone is already considering a few courses, a graduate certificate, or a master’s degree in electrical engineering, I recommend they try the courses they are interested in to see how much time they take and if they fit their schedule. The learner could take non-credit versions of courses first and take the exams for those courses when they enroll later.
If you’re like Allen and you’re interested in using performance-based admissions to pursue a master’s in electrical engineering, check out the MS-EE from CU Boulder on Coursera today!