CSpotlight: Work and Study

I have been working as an Engineering Manager for a company called Trane Technologies since 2008. I have more than 18 years of experience. I did my masters at the University of Minnesota and I was a full time master’s student. I graduated with a software engineering degree and then directly after, I joined the Ph.D. program. 

I have filed 14 patents in my name related to HVAC, IoT, Security and Machine Learning. And published 7 papers in the areas of IoT, 5G, Networking and Machine Learning. I have also given technical presentations in various conferences. I get a great deal of support from my family, friends and my company. They're making this possible, especially with two kids. I have an eleven year old and a four year old.

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

I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I have always wanted to do my masters and doctorate. But due to some family situations, I couldn't do it right away. And not many know that I was supposed to be a high school dropout. Later life got better, so I went back to my passion. I wanted to go to a good university for my graduate studies. The University of Minnesota is one of the best schools in the state and across the U.S. After seeing the facilities on campus and hearing a lot about the professors, it was easy for me to choose.

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

My bachelor’s is in computer science, so I took a job related to that field. I began my career as a software engineer and I was progressing towards various roles like technical lead, software architect, etc. working in the field of computer science. So I pick my master’s in software engineering and Ph.D. in computer science. I have 17 years of experience throughout. My Ph.D. focuses on 5G, networking, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In the current era, anything and everything is being computerized now, especially the impact computers bring to the medical field, comfort, communication, commerce, transportation, etc. is huge. These things got me more interested in the field of computer science.


Tell us more about your work experiences.

I am an engineering manager for a company called Trane Technologies in the White Bear Lake, Minnesota location. The good thing is my Ph.D. is on IoT, 5G and networking and at work, I'm responsible for products related to connectivity and networking. I work with the team who develop the current and next generations of products in the areas related to connectivity. This June, I am completing 15 years with Trane Technologies but I never felt that long. Because I work with a lot of talented people in a wonderful work environment. So every day, we are tasked with interesting challenges and we address them with innovative and sustainable solutions that will uplift our planet. So far I have received 5 Trane Technologies President's Awards for my various contributions at Trane Technologies.  

I’m currently part of the UMN career fair as a member of the hiring team representing my company. This career fair is on February 7. I did my masters and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and my company has noticed the connection.. Since I’m also a fellow student like those attending the career fair, I can talk on their wavelength. At my company, I also mentor the interns. I have hands-on experience and the interns only contain theory knowledge. So when they come, we try to smooth the transition for them through mentorship.

Have you been involved with any research on campus?

I work with Professor Zhi-Li Zhang and do research related to networking, IoT, 5G, NextG, Open RAN and O-RAN. Professor Zhang is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor. Professor Zhang is one of my biggest supporters, especially since I am working and studying. Our research focuses on networking, 5G, NextG, O-RAN, Machine Learning and IoT. My specific research involves developing a fine-grained framework for 5G systems using O-RAN and application semantics. There is already talk about 6G but we didn't realize the full potential of 5G itself. There are a lot of things which need to be uncovered in 5G itself. 5G promises 3 main things (Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra-reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)) but as of now more work is done only on eMBB.


What advice do you have for in–coming computer science students?

There are a lot of potential opportunities to make this world a better place for current and future generations. This can be achieved through innovative and sustainable solutions, so make sure to create an impact and play your part. Incoming students need to enjoy the process and be themselves during it. During my bachelors, I was like, “Oh, I want to get it done, move on, and get a job.” But in masters, I focused on enjoying the process. Asking questions, working with my fellow students, and I took my time. So, enjoy the process, have that good relationship, build a network, and get support. 

One thing students should prioritize is asking questions. Some feel they'll be judged by asking questions. Don't judge yourself. There are no stupid questions, right? So, you need to be open and ask for help. And there's definitely a lot of help available at the University of Minnesota.

What are your plans after graduation?

I want to continue my work related to connectivity and networking focusing on next generation products. At my company, we are trying to reduce the carbon footprint through the Gigaton Challenge. So how, through my innovation, can I do my part? So that's what I'd like to do as well. And in parallel, once I graduate, I'd also like to look for opportunities as an adjunct professor to continue in my passion and contribute back to the community. I would like to teach classes for students part-time.


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

I am a Senior IEEE member and participate in various IEEE activities. I am also a Certified Systems Engineering Professional by INCOSE. I'm an Enterprise Leader for the Asian Employee Resource Group for North America at Trane Technologies. I get a lot of support from my manager Shane to balance work, studies and participate in other activities related to my career growth. I’m also very thankful to my mom, my wife and my two kids. My wife, especially. Without my wife’s support, I won't be able to do any of this. She takes care of the family so that I can pursue my passion, I need to compensate back soon.