Photo by Lupe Carlos
Hello, I’m Tess! I’m currently an electrical engineer at Microsoft where I get to work on next generation products like the Xbox Series X/S. At Microsoft I have been particularly interested in high-speed electrical signals and motherboard design.
I am also a student at the University of Washington in the ECE department where I am working towards my masters degree. At UW I have gotten the chance to work in the SEAL lab on personal environmental sensors as well as with Professor Tamara Bonaci to understand privacy mental models for fitness applications. Most recently I have started to do research in the UbiComp lab at UW on vital signs health sensing applications. In general, I’m excited about using sensor systems to increase human wellbeing while retaining our privacy.
Before moving to Seattle, I attended Harvey Mudd College and earned a degree in General Engineering. When I’m not working or studying, I love exploring the PNW and playing soccer. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any ideas or questions.
Xbox Electrical Engineering
Over the past two years, I have contributed to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. As a part of the Xbox motherboard team I worked to characterize and validate the HDMI interface of the board. This effort involved implementing the recently released HDMI 2.1 standard to enable 120 frames per second for next generation gaming. I was also in charge of the Xbox Series S schematic and bill of materials for the team. This allowed me to learn about the various parts of the console as well as the manufacturing and sourcing process.
As an intern on the motherboard team, in 2018, I designed debugging circuitry along with a custom daughter board with LED indicators. In addition to the circuitry, I also designed and built a C# application for easy user integration.
As part of the Clinic program at Harvey Mudd College, I led a team of six students working for the startup, FarmX. FarmX is a San Francisco based company that provides farmers with water stress data by using weather stations, plant sensors, soil sensors and a web network. FarmX hopes to save up to 2% of California’s water by improving agricultural water use efficiency. The problem statement for our year long project was to improve the performance of the FarmX weather station and create a dendrometer sensor solution to help farmers conserve water and increase yields. Our dendrometer was designed to have a precision of 10µm—less than the diameter of a human hair.
As team leader for the Fall semester, I facilitated the project management for the group which included assigning various technical tasks. I also spearheaded the design of the 4-layer PCB used for measuring the analog dendrometer signal.
Photo by Tess Despres
The Aerospace Corporation Clinic
As part of the Clinic program at Harvey Mudd College, I worked for the Aerospace Corporation alongside a group of seven other students. The goal of the project was to test the feasibility of flying a Nvidia Jetson TX1 on a CubeSat. A CubeSat is a small scale satellite which is flown in low earth orbit. The Jetson device brings increased GPU computation to satellite systems. The challenge was to integrate radiation protection to prevent the Jetson system from bit flipping on the device. A microcontroller was included on the PCB to monitor the Jetson computations. CUDA code was also implemented to test for errors caused by radiation.
For this project, I specifically worked on schematics for the PCB carrier board along with writing CUDA code for the Jetson system.
Hyperloop Competition: Openloop
As part of the Hyperloop competition proposed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, I worked on a team to design a Hyperloop pod. The Hyperloop is a forward looking transit option where a pod travels through a partial vacuum tube to decrease the drag. Harvey Mudd College worked with five other universities (Cornell University, University of Michigan, Northeastern University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Princeton University) in a coalition called Openloop. The Openloop team was able to attend the Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend at Texas A&M University where we were chosen to advance to competition weekend for track tests.
Our Harvey Mudd College team was primarily focused on designing the control systems for our prototype. My role on this team was to select sensors for the input of the control algorithms and then test their performance. I also worked to evaluate the feasibility of different LIDAR systems that responded to the markers within the tube.
Ground Planes Research
Photo by Tess Despres
The goal of this research project is to develop a model to understand how irregular current draws from digital components impact the ground plane in circuit boards. A destabilized ground plane can hurt the performance of components such as Analog-To-Digital Converters because they will not have a constant reference frame.
My portion of this research project was to create a series of test boards to understand the noise in the ground plane. These included boards with SMA connectors and ground pads. I created boards with and without split ground planes. I also assembled these boards in the lab to facilitate measurements. After the process of building the boards, I created a KiCAD tutorial for the lab to standardize folder structure.
Microsoft Windows Core IoT
As an intern on the Windows IoT Core team at Microsoft, I worked in a group of three interns to develop and deploy a kernel mode display driver on a Raspberry Pi. The Windows IoT Core Team (now part of COSINE) works to create a lightweight operating system for utilization on small development boards. This allows Raspberry Pi users to run Windows operating systems. The goal of this project was to write a driver to interface with a capacitive touch screen that used SPI and I2C for communication.
My part of this project was to write the low level code in C++ to interface with the windows kernel. This project won “Best Explorer Intern Project” at Microsoft for the summer and is currently hosted here.
Photo by Isabel King
During my time at Harvey Mudd College, I was able to work on a number of rocketry projects while participating in the Rocketry club to support student led projects. In my sophomore year experimental engineering lab, I worked in a group of four students to design, simulate, and test a rocket that attained super sonic speeds.
I then went on to take Advanced Rocketry where, in a team of two, I got the chance to build and launch multiple small scale hobby rockets while learning about advanced dynamics, risk, and telemetry collection. As a part of this class, I earned a Level 1 certification with the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). This class cumulated in a project where we modified a Madcow Rocketry Go Devil 38 kit to create a multistage rocket system that was launched in the Mojave desert.
Devices STEM Outreach
Worked with Microsoft Devices STEM outreach to show young students how Xbox consoles work at schools and conferences.
Graded homework assignments and assisted students with their problem sets for an upper division dynamics class at Harvey Mudd College.
Graded and proctored labs for the experimental engineering class at Harvey Mudd College where the final project was producing an underwater submarine.
Graded and proctored for Introduction to Engineering Design and Manufacturing at Harvey Mudd College where students learn to solve real world design problems.
Graded and tutored for the Introduction to Computer Science course (CS5) at Harvey Mudd College.
Worked in the Machine Shop at Harvey Mudd College helping students prototype their designs for personal projects, classes, and company collaborations.
Helped to bring extra science curriculum to the Pomona School District in California with the Harvey Mudd Science Bus program.
Eugene H. Kopp Scholarship
For practice of electrical engineering at the highest levels
Frederick N. Holliday Leadership Award
For outstanding leadership in the Engineering Clinic program
Harvey Mudd College Best Clinic Presentation
For best team presentation at HMC Projects Day 2018
Microsoft Explorer Tech Fair Champion
Voted best intern project at the End of Summer Fair