I was born in Vadodara, a city in the state of Gujarat in India. However, I moved around India growing up, mostly in the western and central parts of India. Growing up, I always took a keen interest in Math and Sciences, which in addition to my affinity to build things from scratch, led me to engineering.
The path towards getting into a good engineering program in India was hard and arduous. I decided to sacrifice my high school social life to prepare for the IIT Joint Entrance Examination, which is regarded as one of the toughest and most competitive tests in the world for that age group.
The Indian Institute of Technologies (or IITs) at that time had an acceptance rate of less than 2% and especially for my alma matter, IIT Bombay, getting into a good program meant being in the top 0.5 percentile amongst about 500,000 aspirants. I was able to secure an all India rank of 568 and chose to go with Mechanical Engineering as my major at IIT Bombay.
At IIT Bombay I was fortunate enough to have a lot of positive research experiences right from the get go.
I worked as an undergraduate researcher in Prof. Steven J. Skerlos’ lab at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor during the summer after my freshman year. This experience was a game-changer for me and my approach towards research and academics.
Later, during my undergrad, I also worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Micro and Nanosystems Technology Lab under the guidance of Prof. Wouter Wijngaart at KTH Sweden. This got me interested in the field of MEMS/NEMS and microfluidics. These experiences along with fruitful guidance from my family and Professors from IIT Bombay helped me come to the decision to go to grad school.
I prepared my grad school applications based on the possible advisors I could work with. Prof. Victor Bright is a respected scientist in the field of micro and nanoscale devices, and hence I decided to apply to CU Boulder with the hope of working in his group.
Choosing CU Boulder
Upon acceptance, CU made the best offer and our graduate advisor then, Sharon Anderson, was quite proactive in reaching out to prospective students and answering their queries, which led me to choose CU over other schools.
I am currently a 4th year PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering working in Prof. Victor Bright’s group. My research focuses on development of tunable liquid lenses and prisms which operate using the electrowetting principle, primarily for making miniature optical devices for high resolution microscopy.
Fun Fact: I didn’t know about the mountains until I moved here :P.
CU is a great place to be in grad school. The research environment is quite conducive for quality work, through great faculty and cutting-edge projects. Mechanical Engineering also has a great grad student culture.
In addition to work, Boulder is a great place to live in. For someone who didn’t know of the mountains before moving here, it has been a great journey embracing the mountain life. Through activities like climbing, biking and running I’ve found a healthy balance between work and personal life, which is quite unique to CU.