For two months this summer, The UT Dallas Computer Science Department served as home for Nirbhay Modhe, Parag Bansal, and Vivek Verma, the first group of international undergraduate students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, India, participating in the special intern program between the UT Dallas Computer Science Department and IIT Kanpur.
The International Internship program, hosted by the UT Dallas Computer Science Department, allows students in the program to participate in a summer research project in Computer Science. The academic program is geared towards undergraduate students who have completed their junior year. The program pairs selected students to a professor with matching research interests, who then identifies a project for the intern to work on. The international program is meant to encourage research in Computer Science as well as to show undergraduate students what a CS graduate student’s life at UT Dallas is like.
We spoke to Nirbhay Modhe, one of the three IIT Kanpur students participating in the program, about his time spent here at the UT Dallas CS Department. He provided us with some insight into the program including his thoughts on this unique experience and his plans for the future, as well as how he spent his time here in Texas.
How did you learn about this international internship opportunity?
Nirbhay Modhe: My home university, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, had circulated the offer for an internship opportunity at UT Dallas. IIT Kanpur Undergraduate students who had completed their junior year of school, were offered the opportunity to participate in the program.
What exactly is this special internship program between UT Dallas and IIT Kanpur?
NM: My colleagues and I are the first batch of interns for this special program, so the program as such is not well defined. It started with IIT Kanpur, but I have been told that it will expand to other Universities internationally. It is meant to encourage research in Computer Science and provide exposure of graduate life to undergraduates.
What is your main area of research?
NM: Currently my focus is on Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. I am studying computer science at IIT Kanpur and will be graduating in the summer of 2017 from my bachelor’s program
During your time in the program, in what area of research did you work in?
NM: I have been working with another intern, Parag Bansal, on a research project in the field of Natural Language Processing. It is under then Human Language Technology Research Institute (HLTRI) of the UT Dallas Computer Science Department.
With which UT Dallas CS professors did you get the chance to work?
NM: I worked with Dr. Vincent Ng, who is a part of the HLTRI. His primary research interests include Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. I wanted to work with him because I too am interested in this field.
What are your thoughts on the UT Dallas CS program? How did you like it and how is it different from your school in India?
NM: I didn’t get to know too much about the UT Dallas CS program, as I did not take any courses during my stay here. I mainly worked in my lab in HLTRI, and got to use all the facilities, which the UT Dallas CS Department offered, which I loved. It is pretty different from my home University in India in many ways – facilities, people, way of teaching, etc.
What are your thoughts on this experience?
NM: I loved the experience as a whole. Though I did spend most of my time in my lab due to project being very challenging, I had plenty of time to go out and enjoy my time here. I visited Austin, San Antonio, and Downtown Dallas. I could go on forever describing the awesome places I saw in Texas. I was able to use the Dallas City Pass to visit all the noteworthy locations in Downtown Dallas.
Did you learn anything new from the program?
NM: I learnt about the various challenges one must face when pursuing research. I asked a lot of PhD students here about their experience so far, and it gave me a lot of new perspectives on the life of a graduate student.
How do you think this program benefited you and why?
NM: It taught me a lot about the life of a PhD student, and what I should expect when I enter grad school. I also learnt how to cook, which is a very handy skill for my future graduate life!
Do you plan to come back to the states to pursue further opportunities?
NM: Yes, I plan to pursue a PhD. Whether it will be in the US or some other country is not clear as of now.
Would you recommend this program to others at your university?
NM: Yes! I would definitely recommend this program to juniors at IIT Kanpur. This internship was a balance of fun and hard work, and the completion of my research project alone gave me a wonderful sense of fulfillment.
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members, as of Fall 2015. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.