2020 Project Overview
By Jen Moritz
Projects play an integral part of the MSE program. The MSE flagship program participates in a year-long studio project and the MSE-SS/MSE-ES programs participate in a one-semester practicum during the fall semester. In 2020, students had the opportunity to work with a variety of industries through the studio and practicum projects ranging from healthcare software to analyzing sidewalks through AI to helping send a rover to the moon.
The projects give the students an opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply those principles to a real, complex problem. MSE-SS student, Anant Kaushik, was working on a practicum project sponsored by Digital Dream Labs, a Pittsburgh based consumer robotics company. The project worked on raw data from consumer robots to aggregate it, and provide a simple dashboard for users to look at the data. Anant shared, “The project was challenging and a bit intimidating at first, being a project based on assets acquired from another company and no previous owners in the picture. On top of that, a one-semester capstone in pandemic added more hurdles. The sponsor and the MSE team had to work together to understand the project and the system to be built. The sponsor team was prompt and thorough in answering our questions and providing support. Though we had our ups and downs, the MSE team came through. I was lucky to have my classmates Jason, Zixin, Yunru, and Ziqi work with me on this project.”
MindTrace worked with both a studio and practicum team, where the students had the opportunity to work on the development of a 3D neuro imaging platform to help neurosurgeons be more effective during surgery. MSE-SS student, Jagannath Saragadam, shared that his favorite part of the practicum was, “how our team helped [MindTrace] realize design and data decisions which they hadn't previously thought were problems. This made us add more value to them than they would have initially expected. We made use of almost all the classes we had taken — from methods to EDISS to sketch the various parts of the project.” MSE student, Shreyans Sheth adds that, “It’s been an amazing experience to work with researchers and medical professionals to extract the requirements from them, working with the neuroscientists, working the MRI data, and then actually seeing the processing pipelines we built in action.” The clients were happy to see what both teams were able to accomplish and found the students to be impressive. Research programmer and the student’s main contact, Hugo Angulo shared, “It has definitely been quite an experience to work with a group of graduate students that have a different set of skills that has helped them to build a team that strove to tackle so many unexpected challenges.”
Thank you to all of the 2020 sponsors and best of luck to the graduating class of 2020. The MSE program looks forward to continuing to work with past sponsors and welcomes new partnerships in the future!