Published: Dec. 7, 2015

As a child growing up in Buena Park, California, Cassandra Noice had a passion for discovery. She loved to tinker with electronics. She thrived in her math and physics classes, which helped her understand logic and the interactions between matter and energy.

Her fascination with science and technology led Cassandra to enlist in the US Army. After five years of active service, she decided to use her G.I. Bill benefits to pursue a bachelor’s degree at CU Boulder in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As a nontraditional undergraduate, Cassandra, 31, is balancing her education with the demands of a family. The Electrical and Computer Engineering major is required to take 15-18 credits each fall and spring semester for the duration of her four-year degree program, which doesn’t leave much time for anything but studying. So, Cassandra decided to use Summer Session to lighten her year-round course load.

She reduced her course load for the remaining two years of her program from 18 credits to 12 credits per semester by taking five courses over two summers (2014 and 2015). The reduced work load gives Cassandra more time each week to be with her wife and two-year old son, and to gain practical professional experience. This year she is working as a research assistant in the CU Boulder Control Systems, Sensor Fusion, and Robotics Lab run by Dr. Lucy Pao. Cassandra is responsible for real time control of an atomic force microscope, which involves writing and testing code. Next year she may decide to pursue an internship with a technology or aerospace firm in the greater Denver metro area.

Reflecting on her summer experiences, one course stands out in Cassandra’s memory. It was a Maymester special topics course taught by Scot Douglass called The Chronicles of Narnia and Plato. The course, offered by the Engineering Honors Program, explored the intersection of philosophy and literature. Students read all six volumes of the Narnia series and compared them with the philosophy of Plato.

“The instructor was fantastic and the course was very enlightening. I really enjoyed taking it and regret it only lasted three weeks,” said Cassandra. “I would tell any students considering Summer Session that it is a great time to explore the Humanities. You can dive into a topic and explore it without other academic responsibilities or distractions. It’s really great.”