I am currently an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. My research interests broadly fall under the category of visual communications: encoding, processing, and transmission of digital images, video, and multimedia to reach as many end users as possible. This includes specific topics ranging from information theory to understanding the human visual system to finding connections between math and physical reality that provide useful information for solving problems. The challenge of working with images and video is that the acid test for success is the end appearance, and everyone, technical and non-technical alike, can clearly see the results.
While many of my friends are still in Silicon Valley at Internet start-ups, I have always wanted to be a professor and came to Cornell in 1995 after completing my Ph.D. at Stanford University and working for a year at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, CA. The experience at HP was wonderful, but it also clearly made me realize that I prefer the freedom available in academia to be able to define my own research directions. Furthermore, I've always enjoyed teaching, and I find this to be both the hardest and the most rewarding part of my job.
I ended up in engineering because I liked math and science, but wanted a career that required creativity. Furthermore, my father is an electrical engineer (actually, a professor of electrical engineering (EE)) and I therefore knew not only what engineers actually did, but also I understood that there was more to EE than just circuits. EE is the broadest engineering discipline, spanning topics from pure math to applied physics; my area is on the math side.
I encourage all young persons that I meet to consider going into engineering. An engineering degree is without question the most versatile undergraduate degree available today - it teaches not only valuable technical knowledge, but more importantly, it teaches problem solving skills not required in any other discipline. These thinking skills - the ability to approach any problem and formulate solutions - are invaluable to anyone's career, be it engineering, law, medicine, or anything else.