It is rare on campus for industry to get involved in the academic experience of an individual class, but in the case of Robert Bosch, doing so provides the real-world access needed to give the students in Mark Brehob’s Advanced Embedded Systems Design course the design experience that makes them more attractive to recruiters.

Kurt Metzger Collegiate Lecturer in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Michigan Embedded Systems Hub.

Mark Brehob realized U-M was missing a major design class in this area of engineering, so he created it. Funding was tight, though, so he turned to industry partners as a solution—and that solution has worked extremely well for industry partners, the University, and students.

Each Fall, a different corporate sponsor funds the class, something Brehob considers a win-win for all involved. “They help fund the class, and they also provide a real-world perspective by coming into the class and presenting to the students. There is a lot of overlap in what they do and what we do,” Brehob shares.

“Over the years, we’ve had Ford, State Farm, Lockheed Martin, and now Robert Bosch sponsoring the class,” Brehob continues. “Bosch stepped in after a different company wasn’t able to fulfil their commitment, and we really appreciate their help.” This semester, Matthias Ochs, Director Software, Hardware and Safety Engineering at Robert Bosch Automotive Steering LLC, joined the class to discuss the embedded design processes at the tier 1 automotive supplier.

“We were inspired by the projects and great work from the student teams. Working directly with  student development programs helps bring innovation to the forefront. We look forward to the contribution the students will make on the industry in the future,” shares Kevin O’Keefe, President, Robert Bosch Automotive Steering.

Brehob shares, “The whole experience has been great. Companies have been very interested. We try to engage them as much as we can. People fly to campus from all kinds of places to visit the class.”

And that makes sense, because Brehob’s program produces a very specialized type of engineer. While all engineering students at U-M need to complete a project-based class to graduate, the engineering program that makes embedded systems is very unique.

The students have few parameters: they need to build a PCB with a processor of sufficient complexity during the course of one semester using only $1,000 in project funds. The projects in the class are as varied as the industry applications the students will find in the workforce. From building a cheaper ozone detector to a new electronically controlled continuous transmission to search and rescue technology that can detect people through concrete, the students design their project from beginning to end.

“This class is like a developing a small start-up company,” Brehob says. “Not many college students get this kind of experience.”

The class is also a great networking experience for students, some of whom actually get recruited to work based on their efforts in the class. For corporate partners who are actively pursuing qualified employees in this field, participating in this class is a worthwhile recruiting avenue.

“I’ve had really good experiences working with companies in this class,” Brehob says. “The goal is for the students to learn some new technical material. Embedded systems an unusual field – almost all applications are unique. Being exposed to different applications is really important. This class does that, and the students are much more well-rounded for it. That makes them very attractive job candidates. Many of our corporate partners in this class have hired our students.”