EWU students help engineering professionals win national award

Three EWU students were honored at a dinner in Spokane by the institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers


Five of the six students who attended the Rising Stars Conference (from left): Iziah Nixon, James Ruiz, Arthur Lane and Erik Ratchford (junior and freshman from Gonzaga), and Jordan Holubasch | Colleen Ford for The Easterner

By Colleen Ford, Contributor

Three EWU students and two Gonzaga students were honored at a dinner hosted by the Spokane Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Feb. 22. The students’ contributions were an integral part of why Spokane’s IEEE section received the award for ‘best organized and most active section in the Western U.S.’ in early February.

The event was hosted by IEEE at Luigi’s in downtown Spokane and attended by both EWU and Gonzaga students and faculty. It celebrated the students’ involvement in the Rising Stars conference, success in establishing new clubs, and starting an engineering honors group on EWU’s campus.

Seniors Jordan Holubasch, James Ruiz and Iziah Nixon presented a summary of their experience at the Rising Stars conference, an event self-described on its website as a place “where students and young professionals come to connect and be inspired.”

Participants had the opportunity to network with professionals in top technology fields such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, NASA and Linkedin.

“Talking to these people helped me out a lot,” Nixon said, who is also the vice president of the IEEE club on campus. “It made me come back to school a lot more enthusiastic.”

Nixon’s biggest encouragement to engineering students is to look up from the immediate work in college and think about the future as well.

“Think about what’s going to happen after you graduate,” Nixon said.  “I know you want to get done with school, but you need to start thinking about what comes next.”

Jordan Holubasch, a senior studying electrical engineering, was another one of the students honored at the event.  Holubasch has been a member of the Spokane IEEE for four years, two of which have been as a member of the EWU IEEE club where she is currently a public relations officer.

Holubasch is also the founder of the Women in Engineering club on campus.

The conference gave Holubasch an opportunity to network with professionals in her own fields of interest. To Holubasch, the connections were the biggest value of the event.

“It makes the difference between leaving college with a degree and leaving college with a job offer,” Holubasch said.

Holubasch credits IEEE with getting her involved in ways that build her experience outside of class.

James Ruiz is double majoring in electrical engineering and physics at EWU and is secretary of the IEEE club. Ruiz’s takeaway from the conference was a noticeable improvement in confidence, networking skills, and technical knowledge.

Dr. Steve Simmons is a professor of computer science at EWU, as well as the vice chair and computer chair of the Spokane Section of IEEE. Simmons eagerly expresses the gravity of the award received by his section of IEEE.

The Spokane Section is in the largest region of IEEE worldwide and is growing at a rapid rate. According to Simmons, the fact that EWU students contributed to the elite award is an extremely impressive feat.

“I’ve been in three IEEE sections,” electrical engineering professor Dr. Uri Rogers who attended the presentation said, “and this is by far the best one.”

The overwhelming consensus of those involved in IEEE is a resounding appreciation for the unique opportunities offered through participation. The experience of working with professionals and creating connections to potential jobs after graduation is invaluable.

“You get reminded why you wanted to do these things,” said Holubasch. “I am so excited to be a student and I am so excited to be an engineer”

For more information on how to get involved in EWU’s IEEE club, their page can be accessed through OrgSync and on Facebook at IEEEEWU.