Computer Science Masters student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

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Have the courage to see it until the end.

Arundhati Kurup

What do you do?

I’m a graduate student pursuing my Master’s in Computer Science at University of Southern California, Los Angeles. My broader interests are at the intersection of web, intelligence and analytics. I’ve worked extensively in the field of Computer Vision where we help computers to see and perceive the world just like humans. It’s a fun field to work in – you get to recognize faces, detect cancerous tissues, track vehicles and report anomalous activities all with the help of a computer. A typical day as a grad student looks like this : Yoga, taking challenging courses, racing to finish assignment deadlines, surveying research papers, tinkering with hobby projects, reading, reflecting, writing, coding, debugging, thinking about the course of our world, healthy food and adequate sleep

Why did you choose this field?

I’ve always loved computers. A decade or so ago, a PC decided to grace my house. The endless possibilities offered by this device opened a whole new world for a young girl from a small southern city in India. I could connect to people all over the world, acquire knowledge about everything under the sun and do other miracles. Computers have been surprising me ever since with its infinite utilities. My interactions with this machine made me curious. It was natural for me to take Computer Science in high school and pursue Computer Science and Engineering at the university level.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I’m super proud of how I utilized my time, efforts and ideas to holistically engage in the space of Computer Science during my undergrad. I took challenging courses, established student clubs in my institute, increased the participation of girl students in the tech space, published research papers in AI and wrote articles for mainstream Indian newspapers that reached millions of readers. I also started an initiative to teach underprivileged students coding and robotics. My thesis project was adjudged as the winner of the national student project contest. I graduated top of my class. I also secured multiple scholarships from esteemed organizations for my humble efforts. The past four years taught me that continuous, focused efforts in the right direction will help you to reach your goals no matter what obstacles life decides to throw at you. I wish my younger self knew that the journey where you become a better version of yourself is as important as reaching the destination.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I’m passionate about building frontier technologies for social good. I believe in making technologies accessible not just to people who can afford it but to millions of others who can’t. By working at the grass root levels and engaging with local communities, I’ve come to realize that we will require scalable technological solutions for the future. I wake up thinking how I can put my ideas, skills and expertise to deliver solutions to our shared problems.

Best advice for next generation?

Be brave. You’ve got this. We are in this together. There will be days where you will doubt yourself and your capabilities, but remember the only person who can stop you from becoming better is you. Keep at it. Stick with it. Have the courage to see it until the end.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Fun fact - I absolutely love having conversations about anything and everything. You’re probably looking for me to talk about global economy, climate change, ethical AI, Tarantino's new movie or how to bake cupcakes.

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