Fostering a great place to learn and work
What began as a chance meeting between the general manager of Cirrus Logic’s Tucson facility and an ASU professor just two years ago has precipitated quickly into a robust relationship that is providing significant opportunities for engineering students and graduates.
“It only takes one or two phenomenal instructors to build a strong program in our areas of interest,” says Roy Kaller, senior technical advisor, Cirrus Logic. “At ASU, we have found a great critical mass of expertise.”
Based in Austin, Texas with international locations in Europe, China and Japan, Cirrus Logic is a leading supplier of high-precision analog and digital signal processing components for the audio and energy markets.
“We solve profoundly difficult problems for our customers—problems that no one in the industry is taking on,” Kaller explains. “We need a workforce ready to meet that challenge.”
Kaller says that beyond the pure academic preparation, ASU graduates are well-prepared with industry perspective gained from business-savvy faculty and hands-on experiential opportunities. “There are only a handful of schools with the professors and curricula that enable students to hit the ground running.”
Cirrus Logic has made a significant financial and institutional commitment to furthering these efforts.
One faculty member that Kaller meets with regularly is Bertan Bakkaloglu, an associate professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. They discuss research curricula and Cirrus Logic has provided funding for Bakkaloglu’s research in RF and mixed-signal IC design.
Through its fellowship program with Fulton Engineering, the company takes what it sees as a long term bet—funding and mentoring graduate students in the electrical engineering program.
To date, two students have been awarded the full-ride Cirrus Logic Michael L. Hackworth Fellowship, supporting their master’s-level studies. The company notes that up to three fellowships are available each year. Last summer 40 ASU students had the opportunity to participate in Cirrus Logic’s internship program.
“ASU is one of our top sources for interns and for new graduates,” Kaller notes. “It is stunning how productive our interns are—we pair them with strong mentors and give them meaningful, real-world work.”
In the last couple of years, Cirrus Logic has hired 10 ASU graduates—three of whom participated in the internship program.
“We look for the cream of the crop. We want awesome engineers, but also great students and teachers that embrace our dynamic, open-communication culture. We believe that a culture of teamwork drives our business,” he says.
The company was recently named to Fortune magazine’s 100 fastest growing companies, and was listed among the top seven in the tech sector. It was also among Forbes list of America’s Best Small Companies for 2012.
For Cirrus Logic, the bottom line is creating a great place to work “not because it sounds good, because we work here, too.”