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Meet Rutuja Jadhav, Current GIX Dual Degree Student Who’s Passionate About Women in Tech

Date: January 31, 2019

What types of learners are suited to GIX programs, and why?

GIX Cohort 2 student, Rutuja Jadhav, began her GIX Dual Degree over three months ago, and specifically chose this program for its interdisciplinary curriculum and hands-on approach to learning.

With a background in computer science, Jadhav says GIX has already helped her approach problems in new ways, and better understand and design for user needs. By enabling Jadhav to pair her technical expertise with skills in business and design thinking, GIX will equip her with the multifaceted skillset that she views as essential to her future success.

Read on to hear Jadhav’s story.  What did Jadhav do before GIX, why did she decide to pursue the Dual Degree, and what are her experiences as a GIX student (so far)?

In the final quarter of my bachelor’s degree, I interned at CISCO systems in Bangalore where I worked in the company’s makerspace – called the, ‘thingQbator’

I have always been fascinated by how lines of code can influence the world, which is why I initially chose to pursue my Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering at Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) in India. My days of engineering and extracurriculars taught me that it was important to have more than just technical skills – I needed to learn how to see an idea from multiple perspectives.

In the final quarter of my bachelor’s degree, I interned at CISCO systems in Bangalore where I worked in the company’s makerspace – called the, ‘thingQbator.’ The thingQbator provides employees with opportunities to experiment in different domains, innovate with new-fangled technologies, and work collaboratively – whether that’s in a new team or with their existing one.

I met all sorts of people in the thingQbator – many that had diverse backgrounds and experiences. It made me realize the high value of a person who has the unique combination of technical expertise, customer-oriented mindset, and eye for business potential when approaching problems and designing products.

I applied to the GIX program because of its hands-on nature and interdisciplinary approach

I found out about the GIX Dual Degree through the online UW Graduate School catalogue and applied to the program because of its hands-on nature and interdisciplinary approach. I loved reading through the curated combination of technology, design thinking, and business-oriented courses GIX offers.

The Dual Degree, in particular, jumped out at me because it offers degrees from both UW and Tsinghua University (THU). Back in my junior year, I was selected to be a part of Tsinghua University’s deep learning summer school on the basis of my interest and experience in machine learning, demonstrated through my research and projects. I had the opportunity to work closely with many of the amazing THU professors on their research projects, which enabled me to gain an in-depth understanding of artificial intelligence. I also received a reward for outstanding performance in the program, which was only given to the top five performers. Since then, I’ve felt a strong connection with THU.

Hailing from a CS background, my intuitive approach has always been to focus on the solution. Through GIX, however, I’ve learned to step back, see the bigger picture, and take time to better understand the problem space

I’ve been in the US for a little over three months, and it already feels like I’ve been here for forever! As a city, Seattle is very welcoming (don’t listen to what you hear about the Seattle freeze!). Since it attracts all types of people, Seattle has so many opportunities to pursue your personal interests and hobbies.

In the past, I was a recipient of Google’s Anita Borg scholarship – an initiative to recognize women that excel in technology – and I’ve always been passionate about getting more women involved in tech fields. It wasn’t hard for me to find groups with similar goals in Seattle. I’m also very excited to initiate a “women@GIX” circle soon.

Hailing from a CS background, my intuitive approach has always been to focus on the solution. Through GIX, however, I’ve learned to step back, see the bigger picture, and take time to better understand the problem space. This is more than just a paradigm shift, it’s an essential skill to thriving in tomorrow’s workforce.

Right now, I’m working on a holistic hardware and software system that will help to cultivate safe sleep environments for infants to help prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

At GIX, I’ve sketched, built models, iterated on prototypes through laser-cutting and 3D printing, and so much more. It has made me realize how much effort and thinking goes on behind the scenes to design and manufacture a product. The facility (makerspace) itself is incredible. We have access to tools that help us create cutting-edge technology solutions!

Jadhav’s prototype of two space vehicles joining for her GIX Fabrication and Physical Prototyping class

Right now, I’m working on a solution will identify risk factors in infant sleep environments and alert parents of their presence, giving parents the know-how and opportunity to create safer sleep environments and practices. The project was inspired by initiatives from Microsoft, and we’ve been receiving mentorship from their tech professionals along the way. This additional industry support and guidance has helped progress the project in ways we wouldn’t previously have thought possible.

I still have a long way to go in my program but I’m very enthusiastic about the journey, challenges, and surprises it will bring along the way. I feel proud to belong here and I feel proud to be a part of this community. I’ve already created memories I’ll cherish forever.