Avi ’10, Harvard Preceptor, teaching a design-focused Electrical Engineering class at Harvard
Avinash Uttamchandani ‘10 went on to work for Analog Devices for about a year after graduating from Olin. After that, he started teaching at the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science, and was able to get tuition assistance toward a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Harvard.
Do you have any advice for Oliners who are thinking of attending grad school?
Get some work experience first, it can really inform what you take away from grad school. Get a company to pay for your master's if you can, it's often easier than you'd think. Don't expect that you are well prepared just because you graduated from Olin. Each class you take will have its own assumed prerequisites: find out what they are and ensure your competence before you enroll in the class.
Tell us more about what you do.
I work as a Preceptor in Electrical Engineering at Harvard. I teach hands-on design focused undergraduate classes in EE, as well as modify or improve lab activities. I've created two classes while there and have helped with many more.
What is a typical day like for you?
During the semester I run classes (lectures/activities), supervise labs, advise individual students and teams on curricular and extracurricular projects, and take care of many of the logistics of teaching (grading/ordering parts/sitting on committees/preparing classes). In the summer I work on new material or revise my old work. I also help out with summer internship programs and teaching.
What do you feel you are doing that's innovative?
Running hands-on intro courses that build both individual efficacy and useful design skills. Teaching advanced classes that are still practical. Bridging difficult industry tools with introductory material. Trying to make tools that will help me never run a traditional lecture again.
I understand you’re teaching at Olin this semester also! What are you teaching, and how did that come about?
I’m helping Molly Crowther ‘09 run a workshop on project management for the SCOPE teams. There was a general request for alumni to help run the activity; since I teach it at my day job it was a great fit.
Looking back, how did Olin help you get to where you are today?
Olin provided me with enough opportunities to become both an independent thinker and an independent doer. The design and team experience I got was tremendously helpful as well. But by far the most important way Olin helped me was by connecting me to the classmates who taught me most of what I know and got me all the post-Olin jobs I've had.
Do you have time for fun? What do you like to do?
Between teaching and working on my Master’s, I don't have a lot of free time. What I have I like to spend with friends and family.
General advice for current students?
Don't complain about something unless you have tried to improve it. You aren't entitled to anything in your education - it's your responsibility to make the most out of the resources you are provided with. You can learn more outside of classes than in them. And have fun! Academics aren't everything.