Senior Design Student Recognized for Leadership and Mentorship Skills
Electrical engineering senior Cyrus Yousefian has been recognized with the 2023 Howell Walton Award by his Senior Design course for his excellent leadership, management, technical, and collaborative skills.
The Senior Design program at SDSU focuses on project management skills, technical skills, and collaborative skills. Another aspect of the program is leadership and mentorship skills.
The Senior Design course is the first opportunity for many of our students to design, build, and debug an engineering project. However, some students entering the class have practical project experience gained through hobby projects, internships, or SDSU club activities. In the past, these highly experienced students have wanted to use Senior Design as an opportunity to showcase their skills and create a device commensurate with their talents, and this led to frustration from both the experienced and the inexperienced students.
Two highly experienced students, soon-to-be-Dr. Pierce Howell, and Cade Walton, both recognized this issue and were willing to help address it in Senior Design. Pierce and I spent hours during the pandemic discussing the issue and decided that the goals of the highly experienced student should not be purely technical. Instead, the goal should be to develop collaborative, mentorship and leadership skills. The result of the experience would be a resume that shows both technical and leadership skills, and also the experience of guiding a team on a large project. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Cade entered the program a year later and fully embraced the idea while also helping to refine it. His efforts set the “gold standard” for our program. The comments provided by his teammates formed the basis of a slide that I now show at the beginning of the Senior Design course:
- If you have practical project and design experience, use Senior Design to develop collaborative skills.
- “He/she knows tons of stuff and shares it freely.”
- “He/she pushed us, but we felt ‘inspired and equipped’ – never intimidated.
- “He/she could have done any of my tasks so much faster, but didn’t interfere – just helped.”
- “I hope I end up working with people like her/him.”
This became the “Howell/Walton Slide”, and it gained one more name last year.
A new name has now been added to the slide for the 2022-2023 school year: Cyrus Yousefian. Cyrus worked with a joint ECE/ME team making a battery management system for SDSU’s Aztec Electric Racing Team. He showed an uncanny ability to encourage his teammates when they struggled, and step in at just the right time. Their project required an immense amount of effort, but they succeeded. And when given the opportunity, Cyrus’ teammates enthusiastically nominated him for this award.
During Cyrus’ career, his skills, knowledge, and creativity will be amplified by his genuine desire to make everyone on his team succeed.
The Senior Design course thanks Cyrus for mentoring, inspiring, and helping his team in his Senior Design course. His skills, knowledge, and creativity will be of great use in his future career.