Meet the Class of 2020

Sohile Ali, Bloomington, Indiana

Sohile Ali

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On the benefits of being part of the first ISE class: Our class sizes have been so intimate, and it has been great to get to work closely with faculty. It was eye-opening. We could see how curriculum was made, which I don’t think a lot of students get to see. 

On whether his belief in the ISE program has been rewarded: Absolutely. I think the amount of access we've had to the different research labs, the fact we got to become parts of publications and collaborate with masters and Ph.D. students, and use supercomputing resources, all of those things combined with all the other resources at IU to create a great experience. It’s a liberal arts university, so it’s the best of both STEM and things outside of STEM.

On why he’s pursuing the accelerated master’s degree: I enjoy academics a lot. I enjoy the work we do, and we’re just getting started. I’m always looking for exciting opportunities to gain skills that can also complement my work here. I’m learning how artificial intelligence can benefit society and am utilizing the new tools and resources at IU to put those skills to use.

On advice he would have for freshmen coming into the program: Find projects that you enjoy outside the classroom. If you have time, maybe try to implement some of the technology and tools you’re learning here into those outside things. Whether it’s 3D printing, laser cutting.... It’s all open-ended. It’s cool to walk away with the knowledge and the skills to create some pretty cool portfolio pieces and apply what we learned inside the classroom on other projects.

Gabrielle Cantor, Denver, Colorado

Gabrielle Cantor

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On how the ISE program has helped her outside of the Luddy School: I’ve interned at Boeing and Ford, and I was able to just jump right in even though it was totally outside of my comfort zone. I knew I could figure it out. I could learn a new programming language and figure out how to get the work done because learning on the fly has been what we’ve been doing during our entire time in the ISE program.

On working closely with classmates: It has been really cool to be in the same classes with the same people every single semester. I've been partners with one of my classmates in pretty much every class every semester. So that's kind of cool to get to really know each other's work styles. And if one person understands a subject, they can kind of take the lead and be like, ‘This is what you need to do to learn material. This is how I learned it.’ We all kind of got to take turns being the subject expert in the classroom.

On seeing technological developments move from concepts to reality in the real world: In the past four years, technology has become more and more embedded in our everyday life. It has grown into every aspect of everything we do. I’ve seen so many more applications of robotics or artificial intelligence being used, and Internet of Things devices are much more common. Every employer is trying to expand their reach, and when they hear about a degree like this where you’re doing the software, you’re doing the hardware, and you’re learning these newer, emerging technologies, employers have been super excited. People are looking for graduates with ISE skills because they are exactly what are needed to help push their company into the future.

On the trajectory of the program: It’s only growing, and there are so many more areas that will open with the Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence. Intelligent Systems Engineering is truly the future, and I’m proud to be a part of the first class.

Jack Clarke, Bloomington, Indiana


ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On seeing technology move from a concept to a reality in the real world: It has been really neat. During our freshman year, we could Google some of the stuff that we were studying, and we would find scholarly research papers about it. Now, as seniors, we’re seeing online tutorials on how you can put together a Bluetooth heart monitor. It has moved right into the mainstream.

On his future plans after finishing his master’s: I'll probably go into embedded systems. Might do some reverse engineering. That has been really interesting. A big concern with all these tiny computers everywhere is that security has fallen to the wayside. So, we need people who can go in and understand these systems really well and try to break them before someone who actually has some malicious intent tries to break them.

On the resources provided by the school to the program: I work as a tech in the makerspaces, and it has been great to see the amount of resources they have put behind us with the newest 3Dprinters, laser cutters, any kind of material we really want for like our projects. It has been like really liberating.

On the advice he would have for a freshman entering the ISE program: It's going be tricky. You're going to have to learn a lot. But if you just stick with it, it's probably one of the best programs at IU.

Maddie Fain, Greenwood, Indiana

Maddie Fain

ISE concentration: Bioengineering

The next step: IT professional, Eli Lilly

On how the program has expanded: I think I didn't realize when I first came to IU how important it was to have this program. I’ve seen it grow. I’ve seen it in the real world. I look forward to 50 years from now and being able to say, ‘I started that. I was a part of it when it all began.’ That's also really cool.

On being a part of the first ISE class: Even though we're going to get our diplomas, we won’t forget one another and never come back. We’re graduating and can check that boxbut this will always be a significant portion of our lives. This is our home regardless of where we find ourselves in the future.

On the close-knit class: From the beginning, I think a lot of us were very aware that we were going to have to help each other out. It’s something really unique and super cool, because most engineering programs are cutthroat. But we've done a lot to establish a cohort and actually become a community of people.

On support from the school: I definitely feel like the university as a whole has been very invested. I felt like people knew who I was, and they wanted me to succeed and do well. Being involved in clubs was a way for me to succeed and do well in school, but the school as a whole has been phenomenal. Computer science and informatics faculty knew who we were, too, which is another great way to make us feel a little bit more home.

Mohamed Samy, Cairo, Egypt

Mohamed Samy

ISE concentration: Bioengineering

The next step: Training for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

On what initially drew him to the program: I was pursuing mechanical engineering in Egypt, and I wanted to continue on that path. I transferred to IU to be a part of the swimming and diving team because it is one of the best programs in the United States, and I liked that the program was just starting out. It was all very exciting.

On the challenges of swimming while pursuing an engineering degree: I never thought about it that much until I was talking to one of my friends. He was like, “I don’t know how you’re doing this. Whatever grades you’re getting area much bigger achievement than I’m doing. I’m studying all the time. I have a little time to study, but you have eight hours a day where you’re involved in swimming and another eight hours of sleep. Soyou have eight hours where you can be in classes and do your assignments.” It’s kind of stressful when you break it down, but I don’t think about it like that. It was just what I did.

On leaving a legacy at IU: There’s a diver on the team who is a freshman and in the ISE program. She was talking to me about one of her classes, and I remembered that being a really hard class. I found out they’ve modified the class, and it has improved her understanding. Looking back at how the program has changed, I feel happy because we made some people’s lives a little easier.

On being a part of the first graduating class of engineers at IU: I just feel super lucky. Enrolling in ISE and being the Bicentennial and be part of the first engineering class in a very big university like Indiana... I knew I had to make sure I graduated on time to be a part of it. It’s just amazing.

Jonathan Krzesniak, Loogootee, Indiana

Jonathan Krzesniak

ISE concentration: Computer engineering

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On what drew him to the program: I was drawn to ISE for the promise of a new and unique take on engineering. Novelty is vital for adapting to an ever-changing world, especially with tech. There are new applications for technology and products that come to fruition in response to these applications every day. As our world requires more innovative solutions to such problems, I thought that joining a program just as innovative would help me solve these problems.

On looking back at being part of a new program: Without anyone with prior experience to tell me what to expect of the program, I was venturing into the unknown without a clear picture of what I would learn and how I would fit into the jigsaw puzzle of engineering. Being a student in the first graduating class, the truth is I'm still not sure; I'm still figuring that out.

On what he has enjoyed most about the program: The first semester of the program was so immersive and surreal. After getting accustomed to a totally new way of life, we were thrown into an incredibly challenging first semester engineering project. I had never thought I'd be able to work with a team and put together a completely functional system my first semester of school. It broke two days before we were to present it at a project symposiumit was too big to fit inside the building,and the weather was so cold that our solder joints broke. Overcoming that obstacle is a fun memory.

On what his future holds: President Eisenhower famously said, Plans are worthless, but planning is indispensable. I don't really have a specific, goal nor an outright plan to reach one. I want to help the planet heal along with the people in it, and I'd like to at least try to leave it a better place than I found itI'd like to dive straight into the environmental field after I finish my master’s and help whomever I can along the way.

Krish Mhatre, Mumbia, India

Krish Mhatre

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On why he decided to pursue intelligent systems engineering: was driven by the fact that after I learned about smart environments and the Internet of things, I could see that this was the future. I wanted to be a part of what was going to come next.

On the challenges of staying focused on the little things: When you read about things like machine learning and Internet of Things devices, it’s very fascinating. When you do the hands-on work, there are times when it’s not that fun because it’s just small milestones. When you see those pile up, that’s what drives you. The end product is cool, but the work getting up to the final product is all about small milestones.

On being part of the first class of engineers at IU:It means a lot to be the first class, but it also has been a challenge in searching for internships because we had to explain to companies what this program is all about. But once you explain it to them, they’re very interested. This is a very special place, and you can tell that industries are seeing the benefit of our skills.

On the advice he would have for a freshman entering the ISE program: You have to ask yourself if you’re up for a challenge. You’re going to have resources to work with, but you have to be willing to work. The first two years are challenging, but the rewards will be worth it.

Robert Neubauer, Summitville, Indiana

Robert Neubauer, Summitville, Indiana

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Undecided

On being a part of the pioneering class: It is rewarding to have the experience of being the first group of people to go through this program, but I sometimes wish I had the experience of those after us who get to experience how the program has been tailored after us. Overallthough, I think this experience has been a testament to the drive this cohort has to leave an impact on IU.

On what he enjoyed the most about being part of the ISE program: I enjoyed the projects that have the flexibility to allow you to take applications that you've learned from classes and apply them to an area that you enjoy most in your concentration.

On the biggest challenge he faced: The biggest challenges I faced coming into the program was the lack of technical knowledge I had about engineering. It seems that most of the students in the program had access to robotics in high school or at least some courses about electronics, computer science, etc. My high school didn't offer coding classes, a robotics team, or anything really related to engineering in that way.

On why he decided to pursue intelligent systems engineering: During summer registration, I found out about the engineering program at IU and switched my major to ISE because I thought it would bridge the gap between what I was hoping to get out of the different programs I had been considering.

Eli Phillips, Springville, Indiana

Eli Phillips, Springville, Indiana

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Computer engineer as part of the data science team at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

On the biggest challenges he faced as an ISE pioneer: Being the guinea pigs,” so to speak, was difficult at first. As every engineer knows, even the best laid plans have their hiccups, so it was no surprise that as the first class of a brand-new program we faced a few challenges. Sometimes it was assignments beyond our scope at that timeOther times it was our class schedule changing at the last minute. Through it all though, the ISE faculty were right by our side to help usand I could not be more grateful for that.

On what drew him to the program: I was interested in and even accepted into the computer science program at IU, but I had concerns about a career in software development. Having a job where I was solely programming was not what I was looking forbut at the timeI did not know of any other options to get into the technology field. When I heard about the ISE program startingit seemed like the perfect blend of hardware and software with the addition of artificial intelligence.

On what he enjoyed most about the program: I enjoyed having a small, extremely connected cohort. I know that many of the underclassmen are enjoying a similar experience. I can guarantee no cohort will have 100 percent of their students become as close as we have become. We have had some bumps along the way, but overall, I wouldn't change a thing. It has been such an amazing experience to have been a part of.

On what his legacy means as part of the first bachelor’s class of engineers at IU: Ihas been a truly amazing experience. Being able to look back into the history of such a prestigious school and knowing that I played such an important part in it is truly incredible. I am so grateful I was able to be a part of this monumental moment in IU's history.

Fanbo (Ronnie) Sun, Shanghai, China

Fanbo (Ronnie) Sun, Shanghai, China

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On the biggest challenges he faced as an ISE pioneer: The language barrier was a challenge. Since I was an international student, the first year of study forced me to change from passive learning to cooperative learning. Group projectwere a challenge becauseI did not know how to deal with other membersand they also did not know how to communicate with me. I was embarrassed about the situation during the first semester.

On what drew him to the program: It was the name. I intended to study engineering, but I didn’t want to learn fully mechanical or electrical engineering. The ISE name caught my interest, and I thought developing intelligent systems was a really interesting approach.

On what he enjoyed most about the program: I enjoyed the flexible curriculum and the nice faculty members. Although the curriculum was adjusted since it was the first courses for undergraduates, the faculty were really great and helped me a lot both in courses and in finding a path to a career.

On what his legacy means as part of the first bachelor’s class of engineers at IU: I am proud of being one of the first-ever ISE students at IU, and I appreciate that IU gave me this chance to learn what I wanted to learn. I hope by refining courses, ISE can attract more valuable students and pioneer its own characteristic teaching in the future.

Anthony Tugman, Schererville, Indiana

Anthony Tugman, Schererville, Indiana

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On the biggest challenges he faced as an ISE pioneer: We knew the overarching goals of the school and the direction it was headed. It lined up with my interests. In the end, being part of the first class didn’t turn out to be a big concern. The professors and staff were very open to hearing recommendations from us, and that meant a lot.

On what he enjoyed the most about the ISE program: What's interesting about the program is itis entirely project based. We don't spend very much time going through most textbooks and outdated information. It's basically about what is coming next in technology. We go over one or two days of general background information and then build the project to actually see how all concepts fit together.

On what drew him to cyber-physical systems: I have really been hands-on my entire life, so getting to concentrate on the hardware side of things while still having a very good understanding of everything on the software side of things has been a huge benefit. It was really the path I was looking for.

On the ISE program preparing students for the future: The way it was sold to us was that it was a way of solving some problems. One the things we talk about are things like smart cities. Well, those are small in number right now, but they are growing. You have all these issues in the cities, such as crime or pollution, and people are using sensors in some way to gather all this data and make informed decisions about policy. It's clear that ISE graduates are at a really good spot to be some of the first to really hop into the developing fields.

Aidan Whelan, Bloomington, Indiana

Aidan Whelan, Bloomington, Indiana

ISE concentration: Cyber-physical systems

The next step: Accelerated M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School

On his most valuable experience:The areas that I've chosen to focus on are machine learning and deep learning, specifically in the context of brain-computer interface. I'm writing some machine learning algorithms to process this information and then train models to differentiate motor actions from memory actions. Ihas been incredibly fascinating.

On pursuing the accelerated master’s degree: I’m really excited to continue working with the professors here at Luddy. I’m familiar with the school and the campus, and I’ll get to continue my research in brain-computer interfaces.

On the overarching trait in the ISE Class of 2020: Everybody in this program has the ability to think on their feet. Everybody. And that has extended to the classes that are behind us, too. Everyone is incredibly flexible, and the school has been incredibly accommodating. That has always been a great reassurance for us.

On the benefits of project-based learning in the program: Working on teams have having regular deliverables has been great. I was responsible for projects for four years, and that prepares me for the next step in graduate school and when I move into my career, wherever that may be.