Marta DePaul

 Getting Down to Business

May 9, 2005

ECE Senior Marta DePaul has a double major in the International Relations business track, a minor in Engineering Design, and a love of Carnegie Mellon engineering that runs in her family. She's interned and studied abroad in Japan, researched projects with General Motors and ICES, and taught boy scouts electronics for merit badges. What are the essentials of her ECE business plan?

Marta DePaul

ECE Senior


I'm originally from Dormont, in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.


I have a double major in ECE and International Relations, with a minor in Engineering Design. I enjoy taking electronics apart and working with them, and I'm interested in foreign language and culture. I would like to work in an international consumer electronics or automotive company. That way I can work with the technical aspect and also travel to other countries.

Third Generation of Innovation:

I chose CMU primarily for its amazing reputation in engineering. I wanted to stay on the East Coast and as far as electrical engineering is concerned, this is the most innovative university. A small part is that I'm actually the 6th member and 3rd generation of my family to attend Carnegie Mellon (or Carnegie Tech for my grandmother, great-aunt and uncle). Of those, both my father (MechE '74) and my brother (EE '87) told me how strong the engineering curriculum was, and how it prepared them for where they are today.


I've had a few internships in the marketing area. I wanted to get more business experience before applying to graduate business school. I had an engineering internship with the Borough of Ambridge here in Pittsburgh, creating a 3D map of their storm sewer system. Last summer I worked in marketing for a small Pittsburgh radio company and last semester I had a really great Marketing/IT internship while I lived in Tokyo [through the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES)]. I worked for Oz International, an online retail store headquartered in the heart of Tokyo. This summer I will continue my current research with General Motors and ICES.


I'm a Research Assistant for the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES) and a Product Design Intern for General Motors through CyLab. In ICES, I'm working with Professor Susan Finger to develop a hybrid electronic pen and 3D gyromouse for a collaborative meeting space [called the Kiva Project]. This will allow a presenter to write/draw on the electronic board while close to it, but also to manipulate it from up to 100 ft. away so the audience has an unobstructed view. For the General Motors project, I'm doing some research with Dr. Yang Cai on how people navigate while driving through confusing or dangerous conditions by tracking their eye-movement. With the results of this research, we're going to develop more effective ways of assisting the driver through automotive navigation tools.


Favorite professor:

18-396, Signals and Systems, yielded my most memorable professor, Richard Stern. I had the chance to talk to both him and his teaching assistants (TAs) to get a better idea of what signal processing was all about -- and I really enjoyed it! He was always around if you needed help, or just to chat. I remember talking to him about study abroad because I wanted to take his new Fall 2004 class, Electroacoustics, and if I went to Japan then I would miss it. His advice? That studying abroad would be the chance of a lifetime, and there will always be a chance to take more ECE courses. I've got 2 more years here and some open electives...maybe you'll see me again, Prof. Stern!

Best times in ECE:

My most rewarding moments have all been in the lab. Theory is something that you have to learn before you can act. This is what lecture is for--it gives you the necessary building blocks to start with. But I think that it's in the lab, applying what you've learned and actually seeing it in action, that you feel you've accomplished the most.

Presentations & Publications:

I attended the General Motors retreat at their Detroit R&D headquarters in March and I'll be presenting updates on my research at the May 5th retreat as well. I'm also currently working on a paper with Dr. Cai for possible publication in an Artificial Intelligence journal.

Top-notch advice:

Try and get involved in research as soon as you can. I wish I'd started earlier than my senior year, because you learn a lot more than you do in class or even in the lab. There are so many institutes and so many professors doing interesting and challenging matter what you're interested in, you can find someone on campus who is researching it. Take advantage of this opportunity to get involved and explore different areas, because once you're in the real world, that chance is gone.

Next year:

This fall I will start the MBA program at the Tepper School, graduating in 2007. There I want to study the Integrated Product Development Track with concentrations in International Management and Marketing.

Marta DePaul

Marta (left) and her sister, Kristi, visited Asimo at Honda in Japan on a field trip with her economics class.

Mt. Fuji rises up in the background, behind Marta.

(L - R) Guillaume Milcent, Yang Cai, and Marta attended a General Motors retreat at their Detroit R&D headquarters last March. The retreat is affiliated with the GM Collaborative Research Lab at Carnegie Mellon.

Marta stands in front of a temple in Nagano.