I’m Aakash Aanegola, a violinist, amateur basketball player, gym rat, and Lego enthusiast. I’ll be joining Goldman Sachs, SLC this summer and I hope to pursue a Master’s degree in Computer Science soon. With my IIIT Hyderabad chapter closing, I find myself writing this blog to push you towards PreCog (not in a shameless fashion) and to impart my insights from my three semesters with the lab. I’m sure you’re well versed with the ‘PreCog culture’ and its inner mechanisms from other blogs or word of mouth, so I’ll keep my recount personal and crisp.
Here are my two cents 🙂
As soon as you step foot on IIIT soil, you hear the melodies of inspiration and the clamor of driven peers as they work towards a goal that seems intangible. It is impossible to escape this carefully woven dance, and I, among many others, found myself absorbed in the realm of cutting-edge research at IIIT. To me, what set PreCog apart from the rest of the labs was its founding principle, “technology for social good” (in my eyes, this view may not be endorsed by anyone else), a stark contrast to the other labs at IIIT that focus on specific technologies. This wide umbrella empowers researchers at the lab to target a diverse set of problems, which keeps learning infinite and projects fresh. To me, every WU (if you don’t know what that means, it’s a weekly update meeting where everyone from the lab presents their work over the previous week.) held enthralling presentations, and I found myself participating (sometimes very intrusively :P) in a lot of the discussions around projects. Even though my area of expertise was detached from a lot of the projects undertaken by my peers, they were receptive to my thoughts and welcomed new ideas, no matter how divergent they were. When the table was flipped and it was my turn to present, I found people asking questions that to me were fundamental and trivial, which helped me refine my work and presentation to make it more understandable. If the ability to imbibe from a diverse barrel of intellect is not exciting enough, PreCog also attracts many joint projects with industry specialists and associate laboratories which let us expand our horizons even further.
I might’ve made it seem like my journey with PreCog was sugar, spice, and all things nice but that was a cleverly guiled euphemism. The first project I worked on tanked, partly due to my lack of commitment among other reasons. This apparent ‘failure’ left me shattered, but PK’s response was simply “Don’t worry about it” and he encouraged me to join another project. This may not seem like much, but PK’s words were, in fact, a lot deeper than met the ear, and led me to inculcate a spirit of perseverance. Motivated by my apparent failure, I redoubled my efforts on the new project revolving around graph representation learning and fairness, and it manifested in a submission to IJCAI – we were all confident and ecstatic. Our merriment was shortlived, however, and our submission was rejected – primarily due to a lack of understanding. Again, after much reflection, my teammates and I found that we hadn’t utilized the tools that PreCog had to offer to the fullest, and for our resubmission, we made sure to involve the ‘shepherds’ (PreCog members who leverage experience to suggest improvements to paper drafts) more and were more conscious of their inputs.
Although tumultuous at times, I am grateful for every moment I spent with the labs – not only did I benefit academically, but I also made some great friends along the way (Brothers in arms are brothers for life). If you’re looking to dip your toes into ‘research’, I strongly suggest you take a leap of faith and dive headfirst into PreCog!
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/aakash-aanegola-9221a2217/
Instagram – @aanegola