Learn how performance-based admissions, affordability, and flexibility of the MS-EE program with CU Boulder helped John Trytko achieve his goals.
John Trytko graduated with a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
We recently spoke with John regarding his background, active role, and overall experience with the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MS-EE) program, hosted by Coursera, and how the program helped him achieve his goals.
When did you first enroll in the MS-EE program on the Coursera platform?
I enrolled in October 2019, the first semester the MS-EE on Coursera program was launched. I received an email regarding the program and was at a point in my life where I wanted to go in a new direction.
Can you tell us about your educational and work experience background before you enrolled in this program?
I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2012 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
I started work as a research assistant at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2009 while I was an undergraduate at CU. Later, I worked at Seagate Technology, and then Particle Measuring Systems. I left Particle Measuring Systems to pursue my master’s degree full-time.
There were a variety of factors as to why I decided to get my master’s. I was looking to do more design engineering, and my work was shifting to a different role which would further move me away from that goal. I was considering my options, and then I learned about the MS-EE program.
What initially drew you to this program?
Initially, it was the flexibility and the cost of the program, as well as the performance-based admission. The program was significantly less expensive than most master’s degree programs, and I had the option to switch to on-campus courses if I didn’t like learning online. Since the program was performance-based admission, I could skip the tedious admission process and just start learning.
I think people assume that an online program is going to be inferior to an on-campus program. I certainly started with that line of thinking but found the reverse to be true.
Back during my undergraduate degree, I would wake up earlier than I would like, go to a lecture, wait a bit, go to another lecture, wait, get lunch, and then go home to start my homework. At that point, I’d have lost the details presented in the first lecture. I would complete the homework, turn it in, and a week later receive back graded work. If I had answered questions incorrectly, I had no context for why they were wrong, and I didn’t remember why I answered them that way a week ago. The feedback wasn’t especially useful.
With remote learning, I would watch the lectures and start the homework within the same half-hour. If I submitted incorrect answers, I received feedback immediately. I could then go back to the lecture to see what I had missed and try again until I understood the question. The remote learning homework problems could be more difficult than those in an in-person class because your answers were checked along the way. I didn’t expect the online platform to have harder questions and better feedback, but that was the case.
Can you tell me how the MS-EE on Coursera program fits into your life?
I am currently a course facilitator for the MS-EE program, on the Coursera platform, and I will continue to be a facilitator in addition to working as a full-time electrical engineer.
My timing for entering the program was ideal. Covid emerged just a few months after I started online. I would have been remote regardless of my initial decision.
What are your favorite parts of the program?
There are many great parts about this program. I facilitate several of the power electronics courses – those are wonderful.
Ironically, during my undergraduate degree, I never took a power electronics class. I stayed away from them because they didn’t seem interesting to me at the time.
I think my favorite class was the Power Electronics Capstone. As part of that class, I needed to make my power supply stable. My loop had a few different modes it could be in, so I was solving for a solution to multiple problems. But, I did the math, performed the analysis, and when I plugged the values into my simulation the whole system was stable. That was the moment I realized “Wow, I just earned my master’s degree.”
That was my last semester and the last hurdle I needed to get through. Now, I get to guide students through that process, which I really enjoy.
What do you hope to do with your MS-EE degree?
I hope to get more design work in my career. That was the original motivation for me to join the program.
Would you recommend this program to others?
I would absolutely recommend the program. You can learn a great deal in a short period of time. You can also start taking classes not-for-credit for a low cost, and then upgrade to take the course for-credit. The overall cost is still significantly less than a traditional master’s program.
There is a high percentage of students who come to my office hours that have other obligations and can’t spend the necessary time to go to campus full-time or part-time. This program is great because you can fit it in where you can.
What’s one tip you have for students who are starting this program?
Don’t procrastinate! The MS-EE program semesters are short, so your next final is never more than eight weeks away. If you’re self-motivated, this is an excellent program.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
It’s nice to be in a position to give back to the community. I have always enjoyed teaching, and I’ve always been good at it. Now, I work as an engineer, and on the side, I help students.
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