USAGE, Undergraduate Student Advisory Group in EECS 2011-12

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 2:15pm

As part of the strategic and operational planning for the EECS Department set out by Dept. Head Anantha Chandrakasan this fall, 14 Task Force groups and one standing committee were formed. Several task forces included some students membership, the new standing committee, however, is comprised entirely of undergraduate students, and, appropriately called USAGE — short for Undergraduate Student Advisory Group in EECS. The goal in forming USAGE is to understand the effectiveness (or not) of current programs through ongoing dialogue directly with the students. In forming this new resource in the department, Chandrakasan notes: “It is great to get feedback from our students on ideas for new initiatives before we actually implement them.”

The group was selected after an invitation was extended to all undergraduate and M.Eng. students asking for volunteers for various working task force groups including the undergraduate experience, the website committee, and others. A lot of students volunteered and all who expressed interest in shaping the department’s future were included. The USAGE group includes Carine Abi Akar, David Chang, Cody Coleman, Owen Derby, Lyla Fischer, Gustavo Goretkin, Kevin D Hsiue, Alexandra E Hsu, Kavya Joshi, Ryan Ko, Haoyi Li, Allen Lin, Andres Lopez-Pineda, Radhika Malik, Noel Morales, Catherine Olsson, Kanjun Qiu, Kelly Ran, Aakriti Shroff, Denzil Sikka, Colin Taylor, Ramkumar Venkateswaran, Theresa Yeh, and Emily Zhao. 
USAGE will be a standing committee in the years to come. The membership will be set annually -- open to EECS undergraduate and MEng students as a year long commitment. USAGE students attend a monthly meeting with the department heads and special guests will be invited to each meeting. USAGE members will also be asked to help with special projects.
To date, USAGE students have already given valuable input in evaluating various proposed undergraduate initiatives — critical as decisions are made on which initiatives should be enacted. Chandrakasan, who attends each meeting with the students, noted: “They have influenced my thinking about undergraduate research, student poster sessions and core EECS courses.”

Carine Abi Akar

"My name is Carine Abi Akar, and I am a senior in course 6-3 and I'm from Lebanon. I have UROP-ed with the Humans and Automation Lab since my sophomore year designing and testing scheduling interfaces for high speed trains and working on the controls of micro aerial vehicles (MAVs). I have spent my summers in Beirut, Lebanon, working for an NGO; in Ulm, Germany, working at Daimler AG (Mercedes' mother company) as an intern in infotainment and telematics; and in Dubai, U.A.E., working with McKinsey & Company as a Business Analyst intern. I am involved in USAGE to help the EECS understand its students better! So help us help you!"

Liyan David Chang

"I am a senior in Computer Science (6-3) currently working with Prof. Charles Leiserson on parallel algorithms and compiler performance. My previous research was with Prof. Pattie Maes in the MIT Media Lab. Last semester, I studied Political Science in Paris and am heavily involved in student government at MIT. I am the Chief of Staff in that group with the responsibility for 60+ students who advise faculty and administrators on Institute-wide policy and I hope to apply that same passion to my own department."
USAGE member David Chang

Cody Coleman

"I am a Junior in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS). Currently, I am studying abroad for the year at Cambridge University through the Cambridge-MIT Exchange. This past summer, I worked for Google Inc. in Mountain View, California, and I represented MIT at the Ameson Chinese Program. Once I returns to MIT, I plan on finishing my degree and going on for Masters in EECS."
USAGE member, Cody Coleman

Owen Derby

"I'm a senior majoring in 6-3 and I'm interested in robotic controls and planning. In the past, I have had UROPs with the Evolutionary Design and Optimization Group (CSAIL) and the Computing Culture Group (Media Lab) and I have been an LA for 6.005. I'm currently president of both HKN and my living group. My primary goal is to facilitate the exchange of ideas between USAGE and HKN and the rest of the undergrads."
USAGE member Owen Derby

Gustavo Goretkin

"Hi, I was born in Brazil, and am a 3rd-year undergraduate majoring in EECS (6-2). I have had UROPs at the Media Lab, CSAIL, and the Biological Engineering department. My current UROP is at the Learning and Intelligent Systems group at CSAIL, researching how to plan for dynamical systems with uncertainty. By participating in USAGE I want to help improve the student experience in introductory EECS courses."
USAGE member Gustavo Goretkin

Lyla Fischer

"I am an MEng in 6-3. My goal in life is to fix the American educational system. My first attempt involves a cell phone tool for live action role playing games and a distribution mechanism for games written on that platform."
USAGE member Lyla Fischer

Kevin Hsiue

"I am from Alamo in Northern California. I am majoring in 6-2 with a minor in Economics. So far, I am primarily interested in analog/digital circuit design, software development, and robotics. I have a UROP in the Media Lab's Changing Places group, and am LA'ing 6.076 and 6.002 this semester.
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."
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. I am extremely excited for my UROP working on the Open Mind Common Sense Project in the Media Lab this upcoming semester and I am delighted to be a part of USAGE."
USAGE member Alex Hsu

Ryan Ko

"I am from Fremont, CA and at MIT, I am an M.Eng. student in the Sloan Center for Digital Business with Professor Glen Urban. I have served EECS in a variety of capacities: as a 6.01 TA, member of both HKN and the Undergraduate Experience Task Force, LA for 6.01, grader for 6.006, and VP of ACM/IEEE. I have interned at various consulting and software companies and will be joining McKinsey & Company full time upon completion of my M.Eng. In my spare time I pursue various interests, including technology policy and law, Asian-American issues and advocacy, Bay Area sports, and a particularly extraordinary TV show called The West Wing."
USAGE member Ryan Ko

Andrés López-Pineda

"My name is Andres Lopez-Pineda. I am from Eagan, MN and I am a senior 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 and have been a 6.01 and 6.189 LA."
USAGE member Andres Lopez-Pineda

Radhika Malik

"My name is Radhika, and I am a senior majoring in course 6-3 and 18. I am from New Delhi, India, where I spent the first 17 years of my life. I've had two great UROP experiences: the first one in the Cognitive Machines Group in the MIT Media Lab and the second in the Humans and Automation Lab. Although I do not have concrete research interests yet, my favorite part of course 6 is learning about the application of algorithms and AI to cool real world problems. I've also had some experience working in industry with internships at Amazon, Microsoft and Innovators in Health (a healthcare startup), enjoy teaching, and this is my second term LA'ing for 6.042 (Math for Computer Science); I also helped organize 6.096 (Introduction to C++) during IAP 2009. I think USAGE is a great initiative to improve the undergraduate experience in Course 6, and I'd really like to be able to contribute to changes that enable undergraduates to take advantage of all the opportunities EECS has to offer."   
UAGE member Radhika Malik

Noel Morales 

"My name is Noel Morales, and I'm 6-3, class of 2012. I have very little interest in research, but instead my focus is on tech companies, startups and entrepreneurship. This is my third 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. In my free time, I volunteer on the campus ambulance service, I dabble in theater, and I'm involved in a startup looking to enable you to tell your story. 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."
USAGE member Noel Morales

Catherine Olsson 

"I am a Senior in course 6-3, double majoring in course 9. My primary research interest is in computational models of cognition, especially vision. My UROP experience is working with the Computational Cognitive Science and the Commonsens Computing groups in CSAIL.
In USAGE, I hope to improve the research experience of MIT undergraduates in course 6. Undergraduates are given many opportunities to explore jobs in industry through info sessions and internships. UROP and research careers are not given such a glamorous portrayal, nor are there as many opportunities to learn about what a career in research could hold; I'd like to change that."
USAGE member Catherine Olson

Kanjun Qiu

"I'm a senior in course 6-3, with a minor in 15. I run Traders@MIT, the trading club on campus, and have mostly interned in high-frequency trading over my summers and winters. My alter ego works in the Media Lab, doing thesis work in wearable and paper computing: integrating electronics and circuitry into clothing and paper. I'm passionate about design, optimization, and innovative user interfaces. In my spare time, I enjoy a variety of hobbies, including competitive ballroom dance, yarn arbitrage, sculpting, and piano."
USAGE member Kanjun Qiu


Kelly Ran

"Hi, I'm Kelly Ran, a senior in 6-1 Electrical Engineering. As a member of the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team, I work on the electrical system of a solar-powered race car and also do a bit of team logistics. I just started LAing 6.131 and have already learned a lot so far. I hope to help Course 6 by representing an EE voice in USAGE and by contributing my opinions and experiences."

USAGE member Kelly Ran

Aakriti Shroff

"I am a Junior pursuing a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as well as Management Science. I come from Hyderabad, India and am a true Indian at heart; dance, spicy food, colorful movies - the whole thing! I have participated in several competitions, research groups and student organizations at MIT. Last year I was a part of the Indian Mobile Initiative team that swept the MIT 150 Global and Ideas Challenge. The money that our team raised was dedicated to helping Indian students combine their technical skills and an entrepreneurial sensibility to start social ventures. My vision for USAGE is to improve the undergraduate experience as a Course 6 student at MIT by understanding the needs of both the EECS faculty and students and incorporating suggestions based on their past experiences. " 
USAGE member Aakriti Schroff

Denzil Sikka

"I hail from California with plans to graduate in 2013. At MIT, I am heavily involved with MIT's Panhellenic Association (the governing council for all the sororities on campus) and a part of the Class of 2013 Student Council. In Summer 2011, I was named one of 20 students awarded the Facebook Grace Hopper Scholarship. I have interned at various places such as the biotech company NuMedii after my first year while working closely with a lab at Stanford. This past summer, I worked at Microsoft."

USAGE member Denzil Sikka

Colin Taylor

"My name is Colin Taylor. I am a senior, graduating in June, in course 6-2. I will do my M.Eng, with my thesis in wireless networking at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. I have been a UROP for the LNS group DMTPC, as well as an LA for 6.02 and 6.076. I want course 6 undergraduates to get the most they can from their education, and graduate with confidence with an idea of where they want to go."
USAGE member Colin Taylor

Theresa Yeh 

"I was born in Taiwan. I moved to California when I was six years old. I want to contribute to USAGE by helping provide more opportunities for personal interactions in UROPs and classes between faculty and their students."
USAGE member Theresa Yeh

Emily Zhao

"I am an undergrad in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. This upcoming year, I will also be an RA in Prof. Glen Urban's Center for Digital Business, working towards an M. Eng. in Computer Science. I love computers and want to see them used towards the improvement of our society, to improve efficiency in production and communications around the world. I've held internships, at Google, Facebook, and Jane Street Capital, working on products such as search, ads, and options. I still haven't decided what I want to do when I graduate, but I know it will be high impact and exciting!"
USAGE member Emily Zhao

Ramkumar Venkateswaran

"I am a junior from Buffalo, NY majoring in 6-2. I am extremely interested in the overlap between electrical engineering and medicine. Aside from working on psets with my course 6 fam, I love to hang out with my brothers in PBE and have a good time. I have spent my last two summers UROPing at MIT, including RLE this past summer. Next summer I plan on interning at Texas Instruments in Dallas."
USAGE member Ram Venkatewswaran