6-2 Interview with Ashwini Gokhale

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What were your interests as a high school student and how did you come to choose Course 6 when you came to MIT?

Throughout high school, I was very involved in Math and Chemistry. Since my school didn't offer programming classes, I was never particularly involved in coding. I took Physics I in my junior year that included a unit on circuits which I really enjoyed. Thus, when I came to MIT as a freshman, I was considering 3 possible majors: 6 (because I liked circuits), 10 (because I enjoyed chemistry), or 18 (because I liked math). Needless to say, I had many fields I was interested in, and hadn't made any firm decisions regarding my major until well into my second semester freshman year. But that's what I love about MIT: there are so many chances and classes to take in order to find something that really excites you and motivates you! My first semester at MIT I took the standard GIRs plus a HASS: 8.01, 18.02, 7.012, and 11.015 (HASS). Then in my second semester, I took 6.01 to learn more about Course 6 and see if I liked it. Turned out, I loved it! 6.01 is a class that covers a little bit of everything a Course 6 student can expect to see throughout his or her undergraduate career. I would highly recommend taking 6.01 in second semester freshman year (or first semester sophomore year) to explore what Course 6 has to offer.

Once you decided to major in Course 6, what led you to choose 6-2?

As I mentioned earlier, I took 6.01 in my second semester freshman year, and realized I not only enjoyed circuits, but I loved coding, too! Thus, I declared 6-2 (as I like to call it, the best of both worlds) and have enjoyed it since. I chose 6-2 because it includes both EE and CS, and provides a lot of flexibility in choosing classes. For instance, I have taken header classes in EE such as 6.021 in addition to header classes in CS such as 6.034. Initially, I was a little worried that by majoring in 6-2 I wouldn't be able to dig deeply in the fields I really enjoy, but I found that this was not a problem; while 6-2 allows students to take classes that are both EE- and CS-related, the major also provides students with ample opportunity to delve deeply into one or two subject areas by taking advanced undergraduate classes related to what they enjoy.

What are the aspects of 6-2 you liked the best and how have you found your interests grow or change as you've gone on? Initially, I declared 6-2 because I really liked the broad fields of EE and CS; by end of junior year, I am now increasingly interested in delving deeply into one or two areas of study. I really enjoyed the AI (6.034) class I took last year that involved topics such as reinforcement learning and Markov Decision Processes. In fact, my UROP involves applying Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes in the e-Commerce domain; this is an exciting area of research that I enjoy because it combines my love of AI in addition to my interest in economics (I am also an Economics minor). Additionally, I took 6.02 (Digital Communication Systems) and 6.003 (Signals and Systems), and have found that I enjoy signal processing. I am planning on taking classes related to this field next semester.

Where do you envision yourself headed next and how do you think 6-2 has prepared you? Since I am a junior, in the near future I see myself headed to graduate school! My UROP has opened my eyes to the vast array of opportunities available in the realm of research. I really want to continue being involved in research by going to grad school. Right now, I am focusing on getting a Masters, but I think in the future I would like to get a doctorate degree and perhaps become a professor. I was a TA for 18.03 (in Experimental Study Group) my entire sophomore year, and I enjoyed the teaching experience.