Computer Science has always been THE field for me – I simply can’t imagine spending the rest of my life in an unrelated field. I was fortunate enough to have a subject in school that introduced me to computers in general and specifically to programming languages including QBasic, C, C++ and Java. This subject (Computer Applications) had me hooked – it was gratifying to have a medium through which I could turn ideas into execution. Enrolling into a computer engineering program at college introduced me to the various facets of the subject, and showed me what a fascinatingly logical field it is.
I have always been a very analytical person, a trait that afforded me membership into the Mensa Society at the age of 11. Creative thinking and problem solving are activities that I really enjoy. Consequently, the areas in Computer Science that most interest me are Algorithms, Data Structures, Theory of Computation and fields in Artificial Intelligence including Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. A year of working with data warehouses since graduation has opened my eyes to the awesome power of raw data, and data mining is another field I’ve therefore developed a sound interest in.
My college years were a time of learning and experimentation, wherein I involved myself in various activities. I taught myself the use of various languages and tools including Perl, PHP, AJAX and MATLAB (and a passable understanding of Japanese!), and conducted seminars at my college on the use of LaTeX. I also tried my hand at entrepreneurship, forming a partnership firm ‘Caytech’ with two other students, and we undertook quite a few projects, mostly web-based. We introduced free software downloads for students under the Microsoft DreamSpark program.
The most challenging initiative that we undertook was the implementation of an online testing system using a modified version of the Moodle Quiz module that enabled teachers to conduct practice exams in concordance with the new online testing scheme implemented by the University of Pune. We personally have administered over 100,000 tests, and our system is still in use not only at our college but also at two sister colleges (SCOE and NBNCOE).
I have been working in the Data Warehousing domain in Cognizant Technology Solutions for over a year now as an ETL developer. My role, which involves writing shell scripts and using Informatica ETL tools to capture and transform data from varied sources (Mainframe files, PDFs and COBOL sources to name a few), has been a challenging and satisfying one.
Technically, my work has made me proficient in Unix, SQL and various DBMSs. I have contributed to automation of the process at work by writing a script that automatically generates parameter files for standard processes. I believe that the organizational culture at work and regular interaction with my client and various teams has helped immensely in developing my personality. However the most important thing that working at Cognizant has taught me is that I don’t lack in zeal and motivation, and has given me confidence in my ability to work hard and put in efforts where it matters.
My academic performance during my college years is an area of much regret for me. I feel that I could have done much better, and that a higher second class doesn’t portray an accurate reflection of my aptitude for computer science. These grades are a reflection of a partiality towards practical subjects over theory, poor time management and negligence about the importance of grades. While my marks are now unchangeable, I hope that a generally upward trend in grades, a well-rounded co-curricular record and a top percentile score in the GRE (338) help reveal my worth as a candidate. I’m looking forward to a fresh start and really challenging myself to see what I can achieve on a personal, academic and professional level.
A graduate degree in Computer Science, I feel, will expose me to the foremost developments in the field and enable me to thoroughly explore areas I am interested in and discover others I’m yet unaware of. While I don’t have any actual academic research experience yet, I would love to get involved and contribute something original to academia if the opportunity presents itself. The choices and chances that grad school offers are exciting indeed! I also believe that it would be a rich and rewarding experience in terms of international exposure and the people from different backgrounds and cultures I’d get to meet. A top notch education and a truly life-defining experience is what I aspire to find at USC.
To me, the Master of Science in Computer Science (General) program at USC offers a marvelous platform to realize my goals. World class facilities, a faculty comprising of some of the foremost minds in the field of computing today and the massive reputation of Viterbi as an engineering school are all factors that make USC a dream school for me.
I find the flexibility and variety offered in course selection hugely appealing and I’m looking forward to some of the more unique and interesting courses in fields such as geospatial databases and game design. There’s also some great research going on in Algorithms, Theory and Machine learning that I’d be delighted to get into. I genuinely believe that I’ll be able to make a contribution to, and learn from, the great academic environment at USC.