Academics Overview

Born and raised in Hyderabad, India, I studied at Bhavan’s Sri Rama Krishna Vidyalaya – aptly shortened to BSRKV which made life somewhat easier – till the 10th grade as per the Indian schooling system. The school is part of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) education board, and provided me with a very broad and well-rounded education, and was an integral part of making me who I am today. The freedom to explore, question and in general enjoying childhood was very much part of what this school stands for, not to mention being situated in a pleasant and calm neighborhood with lots of space for playgrounds and facilities. I studied here till 2005.

After that, I continued my education at Narayana Junior College, which culminated the last two years of my high school studies (it is called a junior college, but actually, it is simply the final two grades of what can be considered as high school).

I did my Bachelor’s at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM) in the Electrical Engineering department, after successfully passing the grueling entrance exam for the IITs, called IIT-JEE (now called JEE Advanced). Once again, I was fortunate to receive a very well-rounded and broad education that taught me about a variety of Electrical Engineering topics, such as electromagnetism, circuits and devices, semiconductor physics, communications, digital and analog systems, as well as some advanced topics in nanotechnology. The university encouraged students to take courses in the Humanities department as well, which were some of the most memorable and enjoyable classes, including ethics (a mandatory course, and I believe it should be). Additionally, the EE department encouraged its students to take electives from other departments and I took the opportunity to pursue a few classes in the Computer Science department. I also did a couple of internships during my under graduate studies (more on that in the Professional Experience page). I finished my Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech) degree at IITM in July 2011.

My next step in this journey was pursuing an advanced, graduate degree in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Maryland, College Park. I originally pursued a doctoral degree, with the aim of getting a Master’s as well along the way. I learned a lot here, and expanded my horizons more than ever. While studying at a graduate school often involves narrowing one’s scope and focusing on a very specific topic, I nevertheless had a very diverse experience at UMD, primarily due to the intermingling of so many different international cultures. I certainly learned a lot of Electrical Engineering concepts, this time more in the Communications and Networking domain.

An aside: Electrical Engineering, by the way, is a vast field, and I joke that ECE students are spread all across the campus, well mostly, doing research with folks from so many different departments. I am the kind of ECE graduate, who works on algorithms and mathematics, particularly probability. In some sense, people studying communications and networking have more in common with Applied Math and Computer Science.

I toiled away, taking courses in Communications and also in Control Theory, and working on my research topic (more on that in the Research section). I also did several internships (more on that in the Professional Experience page), one at Google and at Bell Labs, during this time. My interests in software development intensified after these internships, and it wasn’t difficult to switch to this field, given how, as I mentioned, communications and networking has many parallels to CS. The Electrical Engineering background serves well to provide me with a strong set of skills and knowledge that I can use when solving problems as a software engineer.

However, things are not always easy, and grad school is not straightforward. There are a lot of variables in grad school, unlike before where simply doing well in courses would get you straight As and a stellar academic record. Here, however, irrespective of how good you are as a student or researcher, other factors beyond one’s control play an important role including but not limited to dead ends in the research topic, the expertise of one’s advisor and interpersonal skills between students and professors. Unfortunately, I happened to pull the short straw and my doctoral research was not going perfectly. However, thankfully, I had done enough for a Master’s with thesis, having published two papers, one of which was with my advisor, and doing a great job on the associated research project. I finished my Master of Science degree at UMD in May 2016.

While my formal education has concluded here, for now, my education will continue on throughout my life. I wait to see what is in store, next!