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Featured Faculty Profile

       

Aram Agajanian

ECT Program Chair and Professor - DeVry University Chicago
Teaching Field: Electronics and Electrical Engineering Technology
"Ideally, education should be relevant to recent technology and recent jobs. It should reflect what is currently happening in the field. Upon graduation, students should be ready to perform in their jobs right away without needing on-the-job training. And ideally, the lines of communication between students and teachers should remain open after graduation. DeVry measures up to all these ideals very well."

Where I come from

I came here from Turkey at age 20, with not enough money and almost no family support. I was basically on my own. It was a hard time for me, but very exciting. The scary part came when I graduated from college. I needed a green card to get my first electrical engineering job, and I needed a job to get a green card for permission to work in this country because I had no relatives here to sponsor me. It was a Catch-22 situation, but finally I found work.

Later I earned a master's degree in electrical engineering. I worked as an electrical engineer at IBM and General Electric. At IBM I was responsible for quality control and risk management for 4331 and 4431 processors, the generation after IBM mainframes and before PCs. At GE, I helped design and implement a submarine system for the Navy. Getting security clearance for that was quite an achievement.

A turning point

I discovered the pleasure of teaching when I was asked to teach an APL programming course to IBM employees. I loved it so much that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. That was a little over 20 years ago, and I have now been teaching at DeVry University for 13 years.

I love teaching because I like to share my knowledge and to give other people the secrets that I've learned. I like to simplify complex material in fields like electronics or math. When my students get the material, I feel pleasure at having taught well. I especially enjoy teaching at DeVry University because of the school's hands-on, experimental approach to teaching electronics, which is essential to technology but not that common.

Students to admire

I am also drawn to the diverse and courageous student body we have here at DeVry University Chicago. Many of our students come from families that have experienced financial difficulties, challenging backgrounds, and issues like coming to this country and getting used to a new culture. Most have families to support. They are motivated to succeed. I strongly relate to my students because I had a similar background. A big part of me is what I can give to them. I can help them achieve and excel through education.

Acts of kindness

Encouragement-from friends as well as teachers-is so important. Never underestimate the power of a kind word. It can go a long way. It has been so in my life. Because I had no family around me, I tried to make something big out of every little bit of encouragement I got. To this day, I encourage my students in whatever way I can, with anything from their study habits to career advice.

A vision for ECT

Electronics and Computer Technology is a two-year program; you earn an associate degree. I am in my first year as the ECT program chair, and it is very exciting. I want to create an industrial advisory board for the ECT department to get a better feel for what industry wants from our students. We do this at the university level already, but it would be new at the departmental level.

I also work on increasing campus enrollment, and particularly, increasing the enrollment of women in electronics technology. For my doctoral dissertation, I did original research into why there were fewer women than men in engineering and scientific fields. There is no short answer to that question, but now I have a chance to apply my research to improving the ratio and helping women overcome the obstacles described in my research.

Staying current

I recently received my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. In addition, I earned my CCNA certification, Cisco certification for networking, and taught networking courses. I publish papers and attend conferences held by the professional associations in my field, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Through these contacts I learn who is hiring and who is not.

Learn more

The few years you are at DeVry University are just the start of your education. In a global market, the more knowledgeable you are about different fields, the better off you are. Sometimes students don't take full advantage of all the opportunities they have even in college-for example, the chance to combine ECT coursework with courses in network administration. Finding time is difficult, I know, and many students face obstacles they can only remove once they graduate and start earning money. Still, if you can, try other fields while you are here.

Career aid

Potential employers come on campus to recruit. Students who are beginning a job search do mock interviews to practice interviewing skills; teachers give them feedback and coach them on how to improve.

I introduce students into my professional network when they are looking for jobs. I invite people from the industry to come into class and talk about what they do; this gives the students connections for later. I sometimes take students with me to IEEE conferences or on field trips to make connections.

Why DeVry?

The ideal teaching and learning environment features excellent interaction between students and teachers in discussion and problem-solving sessions. It offers hardware, not just software, involvement. You have to touch the computer, take it apart-and not just computers, but all types of electrical devices.

Ideally, education should be relevant to recent technology and recent jobs. It should reflect what is currently happening in the field. Upon graduation, students should be ready to perform in their jobs right away without needing on-the-job training. And ideally, the lines of communication between students and teachers should remain open after graduation. DeVry University measures up to all these ideals very well.