Seeing the Real-World Applications of Electrical Engineering
Claire Cregin, E’25, electrical engineering, has gotten hands-on project, co-op, and research experience allowing her to apply electrical engineering to real-world applications. She built an ECG, created a game exhibited at the Boston Children’s Museum, and worked on transportation systems at Jacobs Engineering.
Starting in high school, Claire Cregin, E’25, electrical engineering, had a desire to better understand what was going on underneath the computer science classes. She says, “Electrical engineering provides hands on work with circuit boards, that interests me.”
At Northeastern, Cregin’s favorite class has been Circuits and Signals taught by Associate Professor Aatmesh Shrivastava. She found it challenging but enjoyed the rigor and hands-on lab work. She says, “It was definitely a lot of work and was a longer class block with a lecture followed by a lab. It was all on circuit boards. At the end of the semester, we built an ECG. Seeing a real-world application of our engineering, I learned more hands on. You’d get a lecture, see something, and 20 minutes later we were doing it.”
She also enjoyed Cornerstone of Engineering. In one project for the class, her team created a game and presented it to the Boston Children’s Museum. “It shows you can really do something with your major to make a difference.”
The circuits class with Shrivastava built a research relationship. “He asked me to be a part of his research team. I want to do smaller scale hands-on electrical engineering, and I think I can learn a lot from him.” Cregin likes the reward of building something and seeing it work. “I like to see how my work can make a difference.”
Cregin has made a difference on her co-ops. Since July 2023, she’s been with Jacobs Engineering, an engineering consulting firm for large-scale engineering and infrastructure work such as the MBTA and railways. She says, “I work on different types of systems, mainly within the transportation industry. I’ve worked on supervisory control and data acquisition systems for pump systems to manage the pumps and manage data relating to water levels and pump statuses.”
In addition to systems work, Cregin has been involved in different parts of the consulting process, such as contractor procurement, initial client meetings, plan design, and quality control. She says, “The large-scale stuff isn’t necessarily what we do in class. With this co-op, I get to see all the systems in a state or a country, and we do a lot of site visits. We went to a MBTA train station and checked out the monitors, security system, and communications wiring. I’ve worked with people from the Boston, Philadelphia, and Florida offices, and most of my work has been for locations in the greater Boston area and Virginia, as well as some small tasks for projects in Indiana and Washington, DC.”
Cregin highlights an Amtrak project for a passenger information display system, which involves designing the power and communications wiring to accommodate passenger announcement systems, sign displays for train information, loudspeakers, etc. and determining the requirements for different stations, such as if an ambient noise microphone is necessary to control the PA system volume levels when trains approach.
Outside of research and co-op, Cregin has participated in the Society of Women Engineers and is involved with a food justice club on campus, Slow Food. Their weekly meetings include presentations on food justice issues, such as the farm bill, a package of legislation that impacts farmers and how they grow food. They also have club outings to places like the Haymarket, Boston’s oldest outdoor food market, and Boston Public Market. In the spring of 2024, she will go abroad to University College Dublin in Ireland where she will take engineering classes. She says, “When I’m back on campus after my study abroad, I hope to get more involved in the Society of Women Engineers events and opportunities for networking, such as their annual national conference.” After graduation, Cregin plans to go into industry. “I want to start working.”