CSpotlight: Computer Science and Mentorship

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota?

I was deciding between computer science and chemical engineering for my undergraduate degree. I knew that the University of Minnesota has an excellent reputation in both disciplines. I decided to come to the University of Minnesota and then figure out which major I would want to pursue. There is also a lot of really great faculty here that inspired my choice. 

How did you become interested in computer science? What are your specific interests within the field?

Since I was young, I've always loved to play video games. It started out as a hobby, just playing Mario everyday. The mechanics of what made video games work intrigued me. Then my grandfather got sick. We needed to rush him to the hospital via ambulance. However, this was in  India. Getting an ambulance to you takes loads of time. You can get Domino's delivery in 30 minutes, but for ambulances, it takes much, much longer. As Uber came along, I thought, ‘Why can't we just alter the software to work with the ambulances and paramedics?’ This problem jump started my passion for computer science. I want to help others who have dealt with this problem. I started to learn a lot about computer science or software development, like some basics here like HTML, CSS, and website development.

Tell us more about your internship experiences.

Last year I did a co-op at Honeywell Intelligrated. I was part of their software engineering team. We developed the software for running entire warehouses. We also got to work with some pretty big names such as Amazon. 

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved? 

Junior year, I was involved in Gopher Motorsports. I love cars. I am really into Formula One and any motor sports in general. I just wanted to do anything that would get me as close to the car as possible. I really wanted to drive the car, but we quickly realized I was not qualified to do so. I joined the electrical team to be involved with the car. 

What do you hope to contribute to the computer science community at the University?

When I initially got the University of Minnesota, I made some great friends that were two or three grades above me. They helped me navigate a lot of university life. I am really grateful that I was able to get such good guidance. Now, I'm currently mentoring two freshmen. I really like talking to them. They’re young and ambitious. It reminds me of when I was a freshman. It's just so fun to see them figuring out their paths. 

Have you been involved with any research on campus?

I was part of the undergraduate research opportunity at the University of Minnesota. In that, I was able to create a recommendation system and the algorithm for that system which can recommend new movies based on the time period. Most of the recommendation system is based on personalization. For example, if you like Iron Man, then it would probably recommend Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3. But in the research I did, we created an algorithm for the time of year to recommend seasonal movies. For example, if it was near Christmas, Home Alone and The Grinch would be recommended. The same goes for Halloween. If it was near Halloween, there would be a lot of horror movies. We found an algorithm that would find the seasonal pattern and of movies.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Do some research and get into a student group. Student groups are a great way to help you find a community outside of your dorm. The same goes for research. It’s really important to branch out and create opportunities to meet a lot of interesting people.