Seeking a Change in Career, Grad Student Finds Drexel


When Vigneswar Sundaramurthy graduated with his bachelor's degree in India in 2019, he quickly realized that the systems engineering job he had taken was not satisfying his intellectual curiosity or career ambitions. He craved the chance to pursue his growing passion for machine learning and artificial intelligence. After testing the waters with an online program at the University of Texas, he came to Drexel to pursue his passion.

“Drexel’s co-op program was a highlight for me when I was looking for full-time programs in the United States,” Vigneswar recalled. “Being able to take a job while I was working on my degree meant I could maintain a level of financial stability and learn while I worked.”

Now a second-year master's student in Drexel's master’s in computer engineering program, Vigneswar has found his niche. Under the mentorship of John Walsh, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering, he is conducting research on natural language processing as it applies to the patent review process.

His specific project focuses on developing algorithms to analyze the language in patent claims in order to automatically determine similarities. This has the potential to greatly accelerate patent searching, a process that presently requires extensive manual review by experts.

Vigneswar also recently completed a six-month co-op at Zoetis, a producer of medicine and vaccines for pets and livestock, where he worked as a data science intern. His task there was to develop a "virtual sensor" to monitor cell health in the company's bioreactors, which are used to manufacture pharmaceuticals. The virtual sensor simulated physical sensors at a fraction of the cost, providing the company critical data to optimize production.

Experiences like these have not only prepared Vigneswar for a career at the intersection of computer science and engineering, but also honed his ability to work both independently and collaboratively.

"One aspect is that I came to know how to work independently and to understand a problem thoroughly on my own," he said. "But I also learned how critical it is to collaborate with a team, pooling different skillsets and perspectives. An industry solution requires applying diverse knowledge across domains, and different teams can have backup plans in case what one team is working on fails. Working solo you can go deep but collaborate you can go far."

After earning his master's degree next year, Vigneswar hopes to find a job in industry where he can apply his expertise in machine learning to develop solutions that benefit society. Further advanced degrees are not out of the question, but for now he is focused on gaining more hands-on experience and seeing firsthand how artificial intelligence and data science can create positive change.

Learn more about a master's degree in computer engineering.