In addition to my coursework, I participated in a co-op internship between my sophomore and junior years, working at the Pacific, Gas, and Electric (PG&E) Company. I worked in the Generation Planning department, where we looked at long term planning of power generation (i.e., what are the costs and benefits of using alternative sources for power generation over the next 20 years?). This work experience was a nice break from classes and gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do with my bachelor's degree. The advantage of doing the co-op before taking upperdivision courses is that it helped me decide what types of upper level courses I wanted to take. The disadvantage was that I had very little experience and limited skills. Overall, I would highly recommend a co-op or intern position to all undergraduates!
During my senior year at UC Berkeley, I became interested in educational technology (i.e., the application of technology to education) and took an independent study with Professor Richard White. In my independent study, I started work on developing educational software for an introductory EECS course, focusing on the Bode plot. In addition to working with Professor White, I also had the opportunity to work with Jill Larkin, who was on sabbatical at UC Berkeley during that time.
Although UC Berkeley is a large, public university, where you can literally sit with a few hundred students in the Intro to Chemistry course, it is also a place with a wide range of opportunities and a wealth of resources (great faculty and fantastic library and facilities!). If you are an undergrad at such a big university, I would encourage you to take initiative, seek out new opportunities, and take advantage of (and appreciate) all that is available to you!
As I began defining my thesis topic, however, I became increasingly interested in video annotation and analysis and made the decision to pursue a single doctoral degree in Computer Science and Engineering. My thesis research eventually evolved into investigating the problem of temporal analysis of video data. Drawing from the fields of information visualization, multimedia, databases, and user interfaces, I designed, developed, and evaluated an interactive information visualization framework for analyzing trends in temporal data such as video. I refer to this framework as my MultiMedia Visual Information Seeking (MMVIS) environment and am continuing some of this research at Bell Labs.