Research Experiences Lead to Fulbright-Canada Globalink Mitacs Award
Aditi Purandare, E‘23, electrical and computer engineering, had three reasons for deciding to attend Northeastern. “I chose Northeastern because of the co-op program, the location, and the opportunities available to undergraduates,” she says.
The university also played a huge part in fueling Purandare’s research interests. “The College of Engineering has a lot of interesting projects and research going on,” she says.
Since her freshman year, Purandare has worked on various projects in the Northeastern University Computer Architecture Laboratory (NUCAR) under College of Engineering Distinguished Professor David Kaeli related to data science, high-performance computing projects, and artificial intelligence.
In one of her first projects on campus, she did a directed study using machine-learning optimizers, where she tried to solve an optimization equation modeled on an X/Y component. “I learned a lot about Python and machine learning, which is a type of artificial intelligence,” Purandare says.
She had other opportunities outside Northeastern to conduct research through two co-ops. Purandare’s first co-op at Eaton Vance Management in Boston, allowed her to work using equity data science with the company’s equity group to support their portfolio managers. Then, she undertook a Cyber Systems Exploitation co-op at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, working primarily with malware analysis.
Purandare’s different research experiences have shaped her ambitions of pursuing a PhD and a full-fledged research career. Her recent award from the Fulbright-Canada Globalink Mitacs Program will undoubtedly bolster her passions further.
The scholarship enables American students to work on research projects for 12 weeks at different institutions in Canada. Purandare, who leaves for Canada in June, was matched with a project at the University of Toronto studying financial planning and portfolio optimization through data analytics and artificial intelligence.
“I think there’s amazing research opportunities all over the world, including Canada,” she says. “I’m really excited, I think I’m going to learn a lot.”
Purandare believes the Fulbright opportunity will help her in ways both technically and personally. “On the technical side, I’ll get to start a project from scratch and develop a hypothesis, so I believe this project will help me become a more independent researcher,” she says. “On the personal side, I’ll be better informed about research practices in different environments, and I’ll get to learn from international faculty.”
Outside academics, Purandare also spreads her knowledge and passion for engineering to Boston Public Schools students as a member of Roxbury Robotics.
As she reflects on the experiences leading her to this point, Purandare offers students some advice about entering the engineering field: “I would say first, not to be scared of engineering; it can seem daunting, but there are a lot of different areas within engineering.”
She also wants other students to know a lack of experience shouldn’t hinder them from pursuing research opportunities, and it’s important for them to network. “There are different roles for different experiences; there are still lots of ways to learn,” Purandare says. “It will help to identify what professors you want to work for; professors at Northeastern are very helpful and they want you to learn.”