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CSpotlight: Research and Industry Experience

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

I actually toured the U of M back in March 2019. I really, really liked the big campus feel. There are so many different kinds of people here. I also wanted to leave the West Coast and try something new. I never grew up in snow or in a cold environment. It’s a new experience for me which I really appreciated. Getting to interact with different faces and different types of people is really important. I feel like everyone is nice here. It's a nice, cooperative environment, and I found a very nice group of friends.  

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

I got interested in computer science at a young age, around middle school. I was taking Java classes way back then. In high school, I continued with more computer science related activities. I was involved in competitive robotics. 

Application development is another subject I really enjoy. I'm taking a virtual reality class this semester where we are developing games and different projects in virtual reality. We actually are using Oculus headsets that the University provided. It is really cool that I'm able to do that at the University of Minnesota. I really like virtual reality, robotics, web app development, mobile app development, and stuff like. Anything that has a large impact and that people can use directly.

Tell us more about your internship experiences.

I did a 14-week internship this past summer in San Diego. I was on a team of about 10 or so people. I did some good work for them. It's a really good place to work, especially as an intern. You get your hands on some really cutting edge stuff just on a typical day. I feel like I learned a lot by immersing myself directly into the tech field. You can learn a lot in classes, but once you actually go out in the field and try something, you immediately notice that it’s the best way to get into the practical side of computer science. 

I primarily like doing software development that impacts large amounts of people. Qualcomm impacts a lot of people around the world. If you have an Android phone, chances are the main chip on the phone was designed by Qualcomm. That's what I really like doing - working on tech that has a big impact.

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved? What do you hope to contribute to the computer science community at the University?

Starting my freshman year, I joined the App Developers Club. We've been active at the UMN for a while now, even before I was here. I joined as a freshman and was then promoted to the event coordinator. Currently, I'm the president of the App Developers Club. We basically run weekly workshops that teach beginners, intermediates, and advanced learners different types of app development. Recently we did a Node.js workshop. We've also done native Android development, Flutter, Swift, and other platforms, developing apps and developing the back-ends for those apps.

I am also contributing to the UMN networking research group as a grad research assistant. We are primarily focusing on 5G research. Right now, I'm doing 5G research to support autonomous vehicles. I'm contributing towards research in something that's really cool. There’s a lot of opportunities here for research since it's a research university. The professors are really approachable. You can just talk to them, talk about your interests and if they find that you're a good match, they'll go forward with it. I really like that professors are very approachable here.

Can you tell us more about your  research experiences?

I’ve been involved with the human networking group since I was in undergrad. I’m a part-time grad research assistant. We do a lot of different things. We got a grant for doing autonomous vehicle research with 5G specifically. So as you can imagine, there are a ton of people on the road and cameras and a lot of moving parts that want to transmit the data over the 5G network. We do measurements and figure out the best metrics to go about that. I think students should get involved with research and especially the 5G work we are doing.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Be resourceful! Talk to your classmates, talk to the professors, and reach out if you have any burning questions or if you need any clarifications. People are really approachable here and that's a really important thing to take advantage of. Being able to communicate is the best way to get more opportunities.

What are your plans after graduation?

I think I'm going to be going into industry for a bit at least. I would like to do software development. I'm not sure where as of right now, but definitely software development.

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

There are a lot of cultural groups at the U of M. I go to different Indian events on campus and that are really fun. But that's just one out of many. I think anyone should be able to go to those kinds of events and find a group that they most resonate with. Those are really fun. That’s a cool benefit of being in such a diverse University.