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Viterbi School Summer Program for Indian Undergrads Wraps Up Successful Second Year

Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) and the Viterbi School jointly fund student research

August 14, 2012 —

Thirteen top students from universities in India came to the Viterbi School this summer for intensive research work with eminent Viterbi School faculty and a preview of what graduate school might offer.

Vice Dean for Global Academic Initiatives Cauligi Raghu Raghavendra
Many say they will try to come back, said Cauligi ‘Raghu’ Raghavendra, Vice Dean for Global Academic Initiatives, who, with Doctoral Programs Coordinator Tracy Charles, has created the unique, two-year old program.

The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) and Viterbi School jointly helped fund 10 of this year's interns. Of the remaining three, two received funding from donors, and one raised money himself.

More than 200 students from top Indian universities applied for the program. The IUSSTF did an initial screening based on GPA and other criteria. “Then, the top 50-plus students are evaluated and a final list is selected by me,” said Raghavendra. Finding faculty advisors is another step. “Going forward it will be joint and I will also interview a short list of selected students to select the finalists.”

All of the funded students this year were in the fields of electrical engineering or computer science. For next year, said Raghavendra, “we have additional donor support and will be able to increase the number of students and also open it up to all areas of engineering.” Raghavendra said he would also be working with IUSSTF to renew the agreement in 2014.

Three students, “all straight-A students, came from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science," said Raghavendra, and have already told their mentors that they would like to return for thesis work. Almost all, he added, will be applying to the Ph.D. programs.

“We had outstanding support,” said Raghavendra, noting that prestigious senior faculty had volunteered as mentors. The projects included sophisticated work in areas ranging from: three-dimensional face recognition, game theory analysis of electrical markets (using as a case study the notorious market manipulation of the 2001 “California Energy Crisis”), the study of a computer system that can discuss movies with humans and development of gesture recognition systems for assistive robotics.

Students attending the program gave it high marks. “I got the liberty to work on my own projects, enough time to do my own work,” said Abhishek Roy from IIT Kharagpur.

Shipra Malhotra, also from IIT Kharagpur, was surprised by the depth of the interconnected streaming applications she found at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, “working with the IT industry as well as Hollywood.”

“When I did a project before,” said Rohit Agarwal of IIT Ropar, “There was always a correct answer. For this, I had to find an approach to discover it.”

Name, Home institution, Subject and Viterbi advisor:
(Top row) Rohit Agarwal, IIT Ropar, Distributed and Cloud Computing, Ewa Deelman; Udbhav Singh, IIT Kanpur, Comp. Architecture, Murali Annavaram; Abhishek Roy, IIT Kharagpurm, Wireless Commns, Urbashi Mitra; Nikhil Upadhyay BITS Hyderabad, Mike Shuo-Wei Chen; Swapnil Haria, BITS Pilani, FPGA, SoC Viktor Prasanna; Sachin Gupta, IIT Kanpur, Game Theory, Rahul Jain; Roney Michael, 
 BITS Pilani, Machine Learning, Yan Liu.
(Bottom Row) Swarnabha Chattaraj, IT Kharagpur, EE, Anupam Madhukar; Shipra Malhotra, IIIT Hyderabad, HCI and Software Engineering, David Traum; Vaidehi Chhajer, IIIT Hyderabad, Machine Vision, Gerard Medioni; Prachi Jain, IIIT Delhi, Information Security, Kristina Lerman; Shruti Tripathi, IIT Ropar, CSCI, Maja Matarić; Spandan Madan, IIT Delhi Biochemical Engineering, Tzung Hsiai.