Outstanding Senior Spotlight: Adityaa Ravi

Adityaa Ravi is gearing up for a new role as a software engineer after graduating from the University of California, Davis, with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and engineering. He talks with us about how inspiring faculty and riveting research projects helped take his passion for robotics and STEM to the next level.

What first sparked your interest in engineering?  

Adityaa Ravi stands in front of a building with blue trim
Outstanding Senior Award winner in Computer Science and Engineering Adityaa Ravi (Cody Duty/UC Davis)

I was initially inspired to pursue engineering when I saw a Tamil-language movie about robots when I was just 7 years old. Noticing my interest in robotics and STEM, my parents enrolled me in a robotics class offered by a small industrial robotics company in Chennai, India, that encouraged me to tinker with lots of electronics, helping me learn and strengthen my passion. I honed in on my interest in software engineering after participating in a hackathon about eight years ago.

How has UC Davis nurtured that initial interest?  

UC Davis helped me take my passion to the next level by providing me with opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, from the amazing coursework to the three research projects I had the opportunity to work on with engineering faculty. I also had the opportunity to share my passion and inspire others to pursue computer science by leading three student organizations — Google Developer Student Club, SacHacks and the CS Tutoring Club — during my time at UC Davis. 

What is a specific experience you found particularly rewarding or impactful?  

My senior design project was to try to use a patient’s kinematic and behavioral data from their smartphones to predict health outcomes, starting out with end-stage renal disease patients receiving dialysis. Kidney disease is a major problem in the U.S., with more than 14% of adults experiencing chronic kidney disease and more than half a million people requiring regular dialysis treatments. It has been one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding projects that I have worked on.

My team of three other students and I knew going into the project that this was going to be large-scale research that could take years to complete, so our goal was to create an initial proof of concept and set the stage for future researchers to continue our work. We worked with amazing faculty from both the College of Engineering and UC Davis Health: Dipak Ghosal, chair of the computer science department, and Dr. Sophoclis Pantelis Alexopoulos, the medical director of the UC Davis Transplant Center. They guided us and provided amazing feedback throughout the course of the project. 

As we had to build the proof of concept from scratch with nothing but a few research papers to validate our conviction, we had to be pretty resourceful and often improvise to overcome challenges. Furthermore, as we were dealing with sensitive patient data, we had to take every precaution for data security and also work with Dr. Alexopoulos’ research team to submit for Institutional Review Board approval [which is required for research involving human subjects] for an official clinical trial to allow us to get access to patient data. While there were hurdles due to the complexity of our project, thinking about how many people’s lives our research could positively impact kept us motivated to push through and create an initial proof of concept in the limited time we had.  

It sounds like Professor Ghosal and Dr. Alexopoulos really made an impression on you.  

Professor Ghosal’s guidance and feedback throughout my time working on the project was instrumental in us making a headway in our project despite it being a massive undertaking. It was inspiring to see him take the time out of his extremely busy schedule to work closely with us and other student projects through his startup club, showing how much he cares about helping students make a lasting impact.  

What advice would you give to incoming students about making the most of their time in the College of Engineering? 

Get involved in research as soon as possible. For both graduate school and job applications, I found that research experience is among the most valued. Reach out to professors even if you think you are not ready yet. Through conversations I got to have with professors during my time at UC Davis, I learned that professors value passion and dedication and are quite supportive.  

I would also highly encourage incoming students to join student clubs and to try to take up leadership positions. My time as the president of the Google Developer Student Club, SacHacks and the CS Tutoring Club helped me in more ways than I could describe. Not only did I learn necessary soft skills like resiliency, conflict resolution and public speaking but I also learned how organizations work, how to motivate people even when the outlook seems bleak and much more.  

Primary Category