Published: May 7, 2019

Catherine Witt honored as spring 2019 Outstanding Graduate for Academic Achievement for the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.

Catherine Witt isn’t just leaving CU Boulder with the highest GPA in her class – she’s also an accomplished student leader and undergraduate researcher.

Witt, originally from Monument, Colorado, has served as president of the Engineering Council and was involved in the Engineering Leadership Program, where she played a significant role in organizing a national summit for engineering students interested in leadership.

Witt with Dean Bobby Braun at the Engineering Alumni Awards ceremony. During her junior year, she worked on a Discovery Learning Apprenticeship project to redesign, simulate and build the analog circuitry and software for an optical aerospace instrument that captures 2-D images at high speed and high sensitivity.   

To round out her undergraduate experience, she interned at cybersecurity and communications company LGS Innovations and integrated circuits device-maker Maxim Integrated, as well as serving as a learning assistant in physics and calculus classes

What made you decide to pursue your major?

In high school, I really enjoyed learning calculus and some of its more advanced applications. Since both of my parents are electrical engineers, they encouraged me to pursue electrical engineering for its consistent use of calculus. I think my parents wanted me to follow in their footsteps. I was also attracted to the challenge and difficulty of electrical engineering. Though I didn’t have any experience in the field before entering college, I soon came to love it during my first semester.

Tell us about your academic experience at CU Boulder. Is there a class or instructor that especially influenced you?

My first electrical engineering class, freshmen projects for electrical engineers also called the “clock class,” was incredibly difficult for me. Most of my peers in the class already had some advanced experience with computers, coding and basic analog concepts from high school; the professor taught it as though everyone had that experience. Unfortunately, I did not. I struggled to find a lab partner who would help me and be patient with my lack of knowledge. Most of my peers and the TAs probably thought that I would quickly leave the major. I had to work incredibly hard in this class just to keep up. With the help of my dad and some online resources, I did well in the class and learned the value of hard work. Since that class, I have given 110 percent to every class and to every assignment. I needed to prove to myself and to some of my more misogynistic peers that I could excel in this male-dominated major. I’m not any smarter than the average engineering student, I just work incredibly hard all the time. I’ve had some amazing professors and role models that have continually encouraged me to seek challenges and conquer them with dedication. I’m incredibly grateful for all the learning opportunities in research and industry that I have been given!

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be attending Georgia Tech for a master’s in electrical engineering with an emphasis in radio frequency engineering.

What are your career goals when you finish your education?

After I attain my master’s, I hope to join the telecommunications industry as a technical leader. I hope to work on the analog hardware for innovative technologies including 5G. I would also love the opportunity to lead and mentor young women in electrical engineering and STEM.