Exciting times! Ph.D. Students, Collaborations, International teaching

I am probably feeling the most satisfied at this point in time after taking up a faculty job! The reasons are many, most importantly my Ph.D. students. As of now, I have 5 Ph.D. students, by the time I am drafting this post, all of them are outside India. Four of the five have traveled international for the first time in their life. If you would have asked me say around Sept. 2011 whether this is something I would have expected, I would have simply said NO. I was keen on trying to give this sort of exposure to students, but, was not aggressively pursuing it. Some time in Sept. 2011, I thought, “How cool will it be to have a research discussion with my students where the students are calling in from different parts of the world?” Even though, this thought seems very silly and funny at the first sight, it requires some important ingredients to make this work, i.e. finding / using the collaborations to send students, finding research ideas / problems that can excite the collaborator to invite the student, and most importantly finding funds for their travel, accommodation, visa, etc. These can be very time consuming, particularly, for somebody like me who is new to this game. Since I had the “stupid” idea, I wanted to sincerely give it a shot.

So, now the details of the visits: Aditi and Paridhi are visiting Prof. Anupam Joshi at Ebiquity, UMBC, USA. Niharika is visiting Prof. Nitesh Saxena at SPIES, UAB, USA. Prateek is visiting Prof. Maura Conway at DCU, Ireland. Anupama is visiting Prof. Virgilio Almeida at DCC, UFMG. The first call that I had with all my students where each and every one of them was sitting outside India was a satisfying feeling. All credits to my collaborators, well-wishers who have made this possible. This may not be a big feat for many, but, I feel very satisfied that my  ‘stupid’ thought has become a reality. Below is a pic of all five of them in their respective location of their visit (yes, they have fun too!!!). Top left to right: Aditi, Paridhi, Niharika. Bottom left to right: Prateek, Anupama.

Moving on to another exciting thing that was going on in the last 5 weeks, I was teaching the PSOSM course at DCC, UFMG. Students were amazing, they are so hands on and systems people. It is always fun teaching them.  Imagine a class where the Prof (me) speaks in Tamil accented English (with some influence from  American English) 🙂 and students speaking in Portuguese influenced English! The course was always going to be heavy with 4 papers to read every week and write summary for the same. But, the students did well and in particular, I felt the students’ quality of the summary improved as we progressed in the course. Since we read most of the papers published between summer 2011 and summer 2012, it was fun for me also to read the papers in detail and discuss with the students. The course made a wave among the DCC community when we decided to have a poster session; as some faculty were interested in the posters, I was worried about the quality of the posters and the projects. I managed to review the posters before the final day of presentation at least once, thanks to all students who put up with me about deadlines 🙂 Students really rocked on the final poster presentation day. Some pics from the poster session. There were about 30 people who attended the poster session. This was satisfying, I was worried about audience. Thanks to some faculty at DCC too who attended the poster session and gave critical feedback.

Hoping to have many more such posts on ‘Exciting times.’

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Professor @ IIIT Hyderabad http://precog.iiit.ac.in