CSpotlight: Learning The Wonders of Data Science

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

I did my undergraduate degree in electronics and communications at Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering, Bangalore, India, and when I was about to graduate, a friend of my uncle was telling me about data science. I had also worked on computer science-related projects during my undergraduate degree, so during that time I started researching data science and that's when I realized that I should start working in that field. Surprisingly, I was the only one in the university from the Electronics and Communication department who got a job in data science as an associate data scientist at Emplay Inc. in Bangalore. While working, I realized that I wanted to learn more about this field, and that is why I applied for a master's program at multiple universities. Since the program is well structured at the University of Minnesota, I chose to come here.

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

I have been interested in computer science since childhood. I had a phase in childhood where I was mostly interested in arranging different data and computing technically. Once I started my program at Electronics and Communication (EC), I was inclined to learn machine learning, Python programming, and other coding-related materials. I love visualizing the projects I work on and I love visualizing the data. For me, computer science and data are related to each other and it makes computer science more interesting.

Congratulations on earning research assistant funding! How will this scholarship impact your academic and extracurricular work?

I am currently a research assistant at the University working on two different projects. The funding has been extremely helpful. I get to learn a lot with both of my professors Dongyeop Kang and Camila Fonseca-Sarmiento, especially because one of them is my advisor and one of them is from Humphrey School of Public Affairs. It is really a great experience to meet different people. I've gotten to meet people in the industry, which is a really interesting experience. Being an international student, this kind of funding has been really helpful for me, it has given me a lot of space to explore.

Tell us more about your internship experiences.

Last summer I interned at Wunderlich-Malec Engineering. I started as an engineering intern, and everyone there was really sweet and helpful. That's where I will be starting my full-time job after I graduate. The people were nice, helpful, and understood what I am interested in. My role shifted to finding what my major interest is, and as the semester went on, I started working as a data analyst. My internship experience was nice, from the people, and the support they gave, everything was amazing and I had a lot of fun-filled learning there.

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

I am the Data Science representative of the Council of Graduate Students (COGS). I did attend a couple of meetings in person but everything has mostly been online. I haven't been able to get much into the group, but I am a part of it.

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

In my program, there are fewer girls, especially Indian girls. I want to be someone who can bring change. With the kind of work I will be doing after graduation, I want to try to bring data science to the engineering field, which is still booming.

Have you been involved with any research on campus?

I started working as a research assistant last semester for the Humphrey School on the TPEC project. We worked on electric vehicles, visualizing electric vehicles throughout Minnesota. I got to learn about the different ways electric vehicles operate, the different factors that are included in them, the different ways in which people are affected, and so many other factors. I am also working on a Natural Language Processing project with my advisor. We are working to set up an interpreter to translate any non-English language to help patients in a hospital. It started on a really fun note, in fact, next week I will be visiting hospitals to see if we can use this for language support.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Come prepared with at least the basics in coding and basic debugging skills. Have a mindset of teaching others, and have an open mind to learn new things, because computer science is a field that is growing quickly.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be working as a full-time data analyst for Malik Engineering. I'm excited because I know most of the people there.

Are there any additional experiences you did that you would like to highlight in the article?

As an international student, this master's program has been a learning program. Not just the academics part, but also life lessons. I have always been at home with my family all around for all of my studies. Here I have had to check on my own life, mental health, physical health, studies, and working. It’s a great experience and I tell everyone that they should do their masters at least once in their life to learn from these experiences.