USAGE 2012-13 Undergraduate Student Advisory Group in EECS

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 9:30am

USAGE 2012-13 - collage showing members








This fall has marked the second year for the Undergraduate Student Advisory Group in EECS (USAGE). Created in 2011-12 as part of the EECS department's strategic planning process, USAGE provides critical student input to the department leadership group to help guide curriculum development and enhancements.

One important initiative that came out of last year's USAGE group was the new SuperUROP, a year-long advanced undergraduate research program.  USAGE team members thought about what they wanted to see in their department, polled their peers, and developed a program that addressed their desire for developing enhanced research skills.  As a result, 86 undergraduate students are participating in SuperUROP this year, performing graduate-level research over a wide range of research areas. USAGE was instrumental in ensuring that the program was structured to meet the needs of students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial, industrial or academic career paths. 

EECS Department Head Anantha Chandrakasan notes, "The input we received from USAGE members in 2011-12 was invaluable in creating the SuperUROP program.  I'm excited to be working with this year's group as we create new programs and reshape current ones." 

The 2012 -13 USAGE group is comprised of over thirty students who meet regularly with Prof. Chandrakasan, Prof. Dennis Freeman (EECS Undergraduate Officer) and with Undergraduate Administrator Anne Hunter.  Additionally, they meet with the Associate Department Heads - Professors Munther Dahleh and Bill Freeman and other members of the department leadership.  They are providing input on a range of issues including curriculum (e.g., a medical EECS program), improving response rates on course evaluations, the role of undergraduate students in faculty search, and IAP activities.

Meet the USAGE members, whose brief bios, photo and statements about their interests appear below.


Ishwarya Ananthabhotla

My name is Ishwarya Ananthabhotla, and I'm presently a sophomore in Course 6-2.  I'm from Long Island, New York, and spent this past summer working as an Information Systems Intern for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.  I’m really interested in development and educational technology, especially software that makes life and learning easier!  During my freshman year, I worked as UROP in the Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, and I’m currently working at MIT’s iLabs through the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives.  My goal as a part of the USAGE team this year is to help improve the freshman experience and transition into the Course 6 family.

Joshua Blum

My name is Josh Blum and I am a Junior majoring in 6-3. I'm originally from Queens, NY however I've been able to travel the world through various internship programs through MIT. My freshman year I worked at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel and this past summer I worked for the mobile advertising startup MoPub in San Francisco. This semester I will be starting a research in the Haystack CSAIL group on the EyeBrowse project. The opportunities I have had through MIT programs has been unparalleled and I look forward to helping build new programs to allow others to have the same experience.

2012-13 USAGE member Joshua Blum

Moyukh Chatterjee

I am a junior in Electrical Engineering (6-1) from New Jersey. I've bounced around a bit as an undergrad researcher. Over the past two years, I worked on photonic crystal measurement in the Soljacic lab and magnetic microstructure imaging in the Ross lab. I also worked as an acoustics intern at the Bose Corporation this past summer.

Through USAGE, I aim to create career and academic opportunities that excite undergraduates in EECS.

2012-13 USAGE member Moyukh Chatterjee

Deborah L. Chen

I am a junior majoring in Computer Science (6-3). Broadly, my interests lie in machine learning and making sense of big data. Currently, I work part time for Affectiva, a MIT Media Lab startup that uses affective computing techniques to analyze human emotions. In the past, I've worked in the both the marketing and defense contracting spaces. I'm also a News Editor at The Tech, MIT's student newspaper.

In USAGE, I hope to be able to reach out to people who are new to computer science and make the introductory Course 6 experience as smooth as possible.

Jessica Chen


You can call me Jess!  I'm a junior in computer science, even though sometimes I still feel like a freshman. My experience has been in working with innovation, prototyping new ideas and bringing them forward so I really have an appreciation for creative problem solving.

I want to help new students in course 6 really appreciate all that the department has to offer. I want students and staff to get as much as they can out of the experience. I'm really looking forward to it!

Stephanie Chen

Guten Tag! I am a member of MIT's Class of 2015, from New York City. I am also a pre-medicine student who is majoring in course 6-2, and enjoys speaking in German, designing clothing, sketching and learning about video games. During the spring term of my freshman year, I worked at the Cima Lab, where I studied drug-releasing brain implants that targeted a specific type of glioblastoma. The research opportunity allowed me to recognize my passion for biomedical devices, and my interest in how electricity is used to manipulate the human body. As a member of USAGE, I would like to work with the EECS department to create more programs that accommodate students who are interested in the applications of electrical engineering or computer science outside course 6.

2012-13 USAGE member Stephanie Chen

Cody Coleman

I am Cody Coleman and I am a senior in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (6-2). My hometown is Winslow, NJ. During my freshman year, I did a UROP with the common sense computing group in the Media Lab. I hope to find something new for my senior year. Outside of MIT, I have worked for a startup called AltruHelp and had two internships at Google.

As a USAGE member, I hope to bring the needs of the department and the students together.

2012-13 USAGE member Cody Coleman

Owen Derby

I graduated in June 2012 and I am now working on my MEng with the Evolutionary Design and Optimization group in CSAIL. As an undergrad I did previous research with my group and the Computing Culture Group in the Media Lab prior to that. I have interned with iRobot, NASA Ames and Jaybridge Robotics. Once I complete my MEng, I plan on pursuing a career at a small tech or robotics startup.

As one of a few returning USAGE members and an MEng student, I hope to bring a unique perspective to USAGE group discussions, ensuring we focus on solutions for the whole picture (freshmen through MEng).

William Gaviria

My name is William Gaviria and I am a senior in Electrical Engineering. I was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, but my home in the states is in Pompano Beach, FL. I am interested in the research of novel materials and their applications, particularly for solid-state devices.  Last summer I was an NNIN REU intern at UMN, but overall I have worked with Prof. Dresselhaus (MIT) and Prof. Stephen Campbell (UMN – Twin Cities), and I am now currently working in a EECS Super UROP project for both Prof. Palacios and Prof. Perreault.

I am participating in USAGE because I would like to give back to the EECS community by creating new exciting opportunities for our undergraduates and by improving current programs

Gustavo Goretkin


I am a 4th-year undergraduate majoring in EECS (6-2) and Math. I have had the pleasure of UROPing in the Learning and Intelligent Systems group at CSAIL over the past few semesters.

I am interested in curriculum development, especially in introductory EECS courses, as well as getting more undergraduates involved in research projects.

2012-13 USAGE member Gustavo Goretkin

Bianca S. Homberg

I'm a sophomore in course 6-2. Here at MIT, I've been significantly involved with the Educational Studies Program, both teaching classes (short- and long-term) and organizing behind the scenes, from weekend-long programs to summer-long programs. This past spring and summer, I was a UROP in the Robust Robotics Group working on a project combining Simultaneous Localization and Mapping with natural language processing.

As a member of USAGE, I hope to help improve students' introduction to Course 6—via both introductory classes and info sessions and other events.

2012-13 USAGE member Bianca Homberg

Kevin Hsiue

I am from Alamo in Northern California. I am senior studying 6-2 and am currently in the 6-A M.Eng. Thesis program with NetApp. So far I am primarily interested in microcontroller/FPGA system design and implementation.

I would like to see the USAGE group create a lasting, positive change, to the diverse EECS student body. Personally, I'd like to give back to a community that has given me many opportunities and great experiences at my time at MIT.
2012-13 USAGE member Kevin Hsiue

Alexandra Hsu

I grew up in Massachusetts and I absolutely love going to school in Cambridge (possibly because I can see Fenway from my window). I'm a member of the class of 2013 and although I came to school having no clue what to major in, I am thrilled to be majoring in 6-2. I've explored a lot of majors, taking everything from intro architecture to probability, and doing a Course 9 UROP. Now though I am happily settled in Course 6 -- developing a passion for graphics, which I discovered this past summer when I interned at DreamWorks Animation Studios.  This year I will be participating in the spectacular SuperUROP program working on a project to make recording and updating online lecture content much easier.  I am extremely excited to participate in my second year of USAGE because I am already seeing the results and benefits of year one!

2012-13 USAGE member Alex Hsu

Sebastian Leon

Hey, I'm Sebastian, a 6-2 EECS junior hailing from Ecuador, concentrating in management and music. Since coming to MIT, I've had great experiences both in and outside of class: ranging from great courses with awesome professors, mining educational data from EdX for a Super UROP, to product management in tech startups in Brazil and NYC.

Through USAGE, I want to improve the course 6 undergrad experience and help develop closer ties between course 6 alumni and current students.

2012-13 USAGE member Sebastian Leon

Andres H. Lopez-Pineda


My name is Andres Lopez-Pineda, and this is my second time participating in USAGE. I am from Eagan, MN and I am working with Rob Miller in the User Interface Design group in CSAIL for my MEng. I graduated last year with degrees in 6-2 and 18. My primary interests are in UI and API design, and I have worked several different UROPs in the Media Lab. Additionally I am currently a TA for 6.00x and I have previously been a 6.01 and 6.189 LA.

2012-13 USAGE member Andres Lopez-Pineda

Noel Morales

My name is Noel Morales, and I'm 6-3, class of 2013. I have very little interest in research, but instead my focus is on tech companies, startups and entrepreneurship. I'm interested specifically in how to bridge the gap between healthcare and technology. This is my fifth semester TAing ESD.051/6.902, Engineering Innovation and Design, one of the most important classes I've taken at MIT as it changed the way I think about the world. I highly recommend it to every student. I also help run the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. In my free time, I volunteer on the campus ambulance service, I dabble in theater, and run a design consulting firm.

I wanted to help out with USAGE, as I felt that the more entrepreneurial students in the department are being neglected, which is a loss for both the department and the student. 

2012-13 USAGE member Noel Morales

Manushaqe Muco

I am a 6.3 senior. I come from Vlora, Albania. I've done research (as a UROP) in network coding, machine learning, GP, software engineering, a bit of hardware engineering, and am currently focusing on AI, which is what I want to pursue later hopefully as an actual researcher. 

UROPs are definitely the best way to do research, and to experience how challenging and rewarding it is. It's owing to trying different urops, that I decided I want to focus more on AI, and that hopefully is the field my career will focus on. 

I hope I can help in finding ways to facilitate the journey through course 6 for MIT students. I also hope I can help with new ideas about getting and keeping students motivated, as well as giving them the necessary skills to succeed later on. 

2012-13 USAGE member Manushaqe Muco.

Santhosh Narayan

I'm a computer science sophomore interested in how big data is going to change the daily life of my generation.

At MIT, I'm a co-founder of and a board member of Sloan Business Club. I've also interned at Bain & Company, Fairhaven Capital Partners, and Fidelity Investments. I'm an avid Chicago sports fan and hope to start a venture of my own upon graduation.

As a member of USAGE, I hope to help communicate student input into decisions regarding the future of EECS to enhance student experiences at and beyond MIT.

USAGE student Santhosh Narayan

Catherine Olsson


I'm a computer science sophomore interested in how big data is going to change the daily life of my generation. At MIT, I'm a co-founder of and a board member of Sloan Business Club. I've also interned at Bain & Company, Fairhaven Capital Partners, and Fidelity Investments. I'm an avid Chicago sports fan #TheReturn and hope to start a venture of my own upon graduation.

2012-13 USAGE member Catherine Olsson

Anvisha Pai

I'm a Junior in 6-2 from Mumbai, India with a broad range of interests within EECS. My Freshman year, I fabricated nanotubes at the Strano Group and dabbled in 3D Printing at the Media Lab. I'm currently a UROP with Rob Miller in the UI Design group at CSAIL. I've had internships at Boeing and Credit Suisse, and am heavily involved with Techfair, a student-run technology expo, and the Sloan Business Club.

Through USAGE, I hope to help implement programs that emphasize hands-on learning and ease the transition into
Course 6.

2012-13 USAGE member

Victor Pontis

Hi, my name is Victor Pontis and I am majoring in Computational Biology (6-7) and Physics (8B). I am from San Diego and picked up EECS in high school through an autonomous robotics competition.  During freshman IAP, I taught myself web-dev with two close friends and developed a study tool called Termstile.

Through USAGE I want to promote new opportunities in Computational Biology and push the EECS department to emphasize entrepreneurship in classes through projects that make an impact on the real world. 

2012-13 USAGE member Victor Pontis

Devon J. Rosner

I am a senior from Keene, NH majoring in 6-1. My main interests in EE are circuit design and biomedical applications. In my free time I enjoy playing guitar for MIT's Festival Jazz Ensemble and my funk band Rolltreppe, as well as hanging with friends . I have spent my last three summers UROPing at MIT for various groups, most recently for a group in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. In addition to research, I am also an LA for 6.111.

In USAGE, my goals are to represent EE students, cultivate interest in the major, and improve Course VI overall.

2012-13 USAGE member Devon J. Rosner

Aakanksha Sarda


I'm a Junior in course 6-2 from Mumbai, India. My interest in everything visual has come a long way since my freshman UROP building 3D TVs - I'm now on the Tech's video staff and working on de-blurring JPEG images for my SuperUROP. I spent my summers at Facebook and Dropbox, taking new features from conceptualization to launch, for products that I use and love.

Course 6 has really shaped and defined every aspect of my MIT experience, and now I'm very excited about the opportunity to give back to the EECS student community as part of USAGE!

2012-13 USAGE member Aakanksha Sarda

Denzil Sikka

I hail from the sunny state of California, and I chose to be 6-2 because I love coding and want to make an impact on the world with technology. I like to be involved on campus and have involved myself in several organizations on campus: I am president of the Panhellenic Association, the governing council of MIT's six sororities, I am on the Class of 2013's student council, and I am participating in this year's super-UROP program through Rob Miller's lab. I have had several different internships, including at Microsoft, J.P. Morgan, and a bio-tech startup, NuMedii.

Having been on USAGE before, I know the impact the advisory board can have, and I hope that with my broad experiences, unique perspective, and strong opinions, I can work with USAGE to make EECS the best department at MIT!

2012-13 USAGE member Denzil Sikka

Nitya Subramanian

I am a Sophomore currently majoring in Computer Science(6-3). I am from Fremont,California and have been working as a UROP at CSAIL since January of my freshman year. I am very interested in entrepreneurship/startups, and look forward to learning more about my interests. Over the past few summers, I have worked at Cisco Systems as well as UC Berkeley's EECS Department.

Outside of academics, I am involved with the MIT Crew team and the Society of Women Engineers, and hope to bring a new perspective to USAGE and strengthen both student-faculty connections and the Course 6 community.

2012-13 USAGE member Nitya Subramanian

Christopher Tam


Hi. I am a junior in Course 6-2.  I come from Boston, MA.  I have had no prior research experience, but did a summer internship at S&P Capital IQ this summer.

As a member of USAGE, I hope to understand the direction of the EECS department and use my experiences to aid the department in its decisions about its students.


Jelle van den Hooff

Hi, I was born in the Netherlands and am a now a senior studying computer science and engineering. In the past, I have worked at Google working on dependency analysis. I think that practical applications of computer science and electrical engineering are fascinating and great fun to work on. Working on (independent) projects is a great experience, but there is a large barrier to entry.

I have seen how difficult it can be to enter the world of technology as an outsider, and I hope that I can improve this experience for others in the future through USAGE.

2012-13 USAGE member Jelle van den Hooff

Luis Voloch

I am a senior undergraduate student in course 6-3 and 18. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived for some time in New York as well before coming to MIT. I have have been involved in two great research experiences - one in Network Coding in RLE and the other in Inference in LIDS - and have worked summers in software engineering and finance. USAGE is a excellent initiative by the department, and I believe that getting extensive feedback from students is a great way to improve.

In USAGE, I hope to contribute to the experience of undergrads at MIT with ideas of how to best get involved and be prepared for the expectations of research and industry.

2012-13 USAGE member Luis Voloch

Cassandra Xia


Hi! I am a MEng student with the Fluid Interfaces group in the Media Lab, working on building a daydream machine. As a member of USAGE, I hope to create fun opportunities for students to step out of the undergrad grind and make interesting, tangible projects that they can be proud of. 

2012-13 USAGE member Cassandra Xia

Xinyue (Linda) Ye

I'm a junior in 6-3 and I'm from Plano (a suburb of Dallas), TX. Last semester, I started a UROP with Professor Armando Solar Lezama in the Computer Aided Programming Group on Storyboard Programming where I researched ways to represent data structure manipulations as visual storyboards and I'm continuing the same project this year. In this past summer, I worked as an software development intern at a company in San Francisco called Guidewire where I worked on a data visualization framework. If you had asked me my senior year of high school what I thought I would be doing in the next five years, I would have never guessed any of this and I hope that in joining USAGE, I can contribute and provide useful feedback to help underclassmen have the same or even more wonderful opportunities that I had in EECS.

2012-13 USAGE member Xinyue (Linda) Ye

Yao (Rebecca) Zhang

Hi, I’m Rebecca Zhang, a sophomore majoring in Course 6-2 (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science) and minoring in Management Science. I hail from Berwyn, PA, a town 20 minutes outside of Philly. The summer after my freshman year, I was an undergraduate researcher in the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics (ONE) Lab working on quantum dot photovoltaics. I am interested in alternative energy, especially solar energy and energy policy.

Through USAGE, I would like more people to learn about the diverse opportunities in EECS. Hopefully USAGE also becomes an effective channel of communication between faculty and students. Course VI is the biggest department on campus, but every student’s opinion matters!

2012-13 USAGE member Rebecca Zhang

Xianzhen Zhu


I am from Shanghai, China and I came to United States when I was 18.I am a senior in Electrical Engineering. Currently I am working with Prof. Charles Sodini on ear-worn device monitoring vital signs. My primary interests are in cool things which could also benefit people, especially involving electrical engineering.

By participating in USAGE, I want to help to make course VI a more awesome major for students.

2012-13 USAGE member Xianzhen (King) Zhu