Letter to the editor: I am writing in support of the faculty and staff of Oakland University


Photo courtesy of Carla Gerst

Oakland University electrical engineering student Carla Gerst.

Carla Gerst, Contributor

I am writing in support of the faculty and staff of Oakland University. I have been a student at Oakland University since Fall 2015. I earned a BSE in Electrical Engineering in December 2017 and am currently a Summer 2021 MS degree candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering. As a mother of teenagers going back to school, I originally considered it “continuing education”. I was here to get a degree (or two) and didn’t consider that I would make lifelong friends or that the experience would challenge me and make me a better person. What I found was an engineering department faculty that was committed to lifelong learning and a diverse student body where I could learn about different cultures and experiences. The professors expected the best out of me. It became a journey about finding myself and learning what I was capable of.

My advisor, Dr. Kahlid Mirza, helped me become passionate about using cameras with machine vision for autonomous technologies such as obstacle detection. He also taught me how to have fun developing technology and the importance of working with designers from OU’s Art department in the Makers@OU club. Dr. Ka C. Cheok made lectures entertaining and was able to make the content interesting. Dr. Hongwei Qu is a wealth of knowledge in his subject area and challenged me beyond what I thought capable. Dr. Jai Li challenged me and had a lot of great insight. Dr. Ganesan introduced me to IEEE and brought me on board as a committee member for planning the IEEE Embedded Systems Workshop held in October each year. Dr. Wing-Yue Geoffrey Louie did an incredible job transitioning to an online class in March 2020. I appreciated Dr. Michael Latcha’s efforts to develop an interesting senior design class and bring in industry sponsors so students could gain real world experience and for Dr. Aloi who taught the electrical engineering side of the class the semester I took it. Together, they showed me good engineering design processes and how to develop a good understanding of electromechanical systems. Dr. Osamah Rawashdeh developed a sophomore design program where students look forward to developing a project. I walked with pride by the sophomore design lab every time I saw my project in the glass windows. Other professors that I’ve learned so much from include Dr. Hoda Abdel-Aty-Zohdy, Dr. Seyed Ali Arefifar, Dr. Daniel Llamocca, and Dr. Michel Sultan. Together, they made engineering interesting and gave me a sense that my contributions were valuable.

I cannot conclude my academic career without mentioning the amazing Career Services department. Kathy Livelsberger, Kelli Foskic, and Laura Kroger do such an incredible job helping students develop resumes and prepare for interviews. They helped me find internships and prepare for a full-time position after graduating. I even had the opportunity to switch sides of the career fair table and represent my employer after I earned my BS degree. I look forward to working with them as an industry partner at future career fairs.

The Oakland University faculty are the lifeblood of the school. They interact with students daily and contribute valuable research to the institution. Full-time faculty provide continuity for students and build relationships that continue after graduation as industry partners. They deserve to be fully compensated for everything they do. OU wouldn’t be what it is today without their dedicated service. I understand that it is tough financially during this pandemic but now is not the time to cut back on compensation for faculty. The pandemic has changed the world and OU has an opportunity to differentiate ourselves as a university that cares about students and faculty. Students will see the difference and make OU their first choice for college selection.

Please continue to support the OU faculty. The future of OU depends on it.


Carla Gerst

Letters to the editor can be submitted to [email protected].