Babies are born learners. Nurturing a child’s curiosity can make them a life-long learner if parents push them in the right manner.
As parents, we are always trying to encourage our child and we try to be an ideal role model. We push them to take an interest in the world around them, we try to answer all the questions in the right manner, we curate an ideal reading list, create an interesting environment, stimulate the child’s mind with open-ended questions and also allow time for free-play. And that’s just what has taken this young Chennai teenager to levels that others his age can only be envious of!
Sudarshan Sreeram will be attending the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) hosted by Apple annually where they showcase new software and technologies for the developer community. Students are an integral part of this community and last year WWDC saw attendance from student developers from 41 countries.
Here’s the inspiring story of Sudarshan Sreeram (17yrs):
My childhood was filled with various types of puzzles; solving them was my favourite past time activity. It provided me with a mindset that seeks connections and explanations for the events taking place around me. This led me to ponder about how things worked. I tried to find the underlying principles behind my DVD player that played my favourite movie and my toy car that ran without fuel.
I took apart old and broken devices, trying to figure out how they once worked. Although I didn’t really understand how these devices worked, the curiosity to do so drove me to learn about them.
Soon, my father bought me a book “How Computers Work” (by John White) that changed my view. This got me to think about the history of computers and that’s where I came across Alan Turing and Steve Jobs. Their works and ideologies sparked my drive towards science and technology. To put it simply, they were the key to my further understanding of the “puzzle”. Scientists and trailblazers who embrace research, technology, and innovation hold a futuristic vision of our world. They left an everlasting impression on me; they shaped my thoughts and motivated me to explore the fields of science and technology.
My drive towards STEM subjects was kindled by the rapid development and expansion of these fields.
My exploration of these subjects began with a set of LEGO blocks, which evolved into digital electronics, robotics, and DIY kits. These phases not only gave me creative freedom but also marked the birth of my interest in computing as a whole.
For the most part, my inquisitiveness towards computing was driven primarily by the field of electronics — more specifically, through the Arduino development platform. A typical weekend for me would involve tinkering with electronic components and carrying out DIY projects, all while gaining exposure and knowledge from this vast field.
Along this path, I built my fundamentals and expanded my skill set in the field of computing research. An introductory level course from Harvard University that I took in the 9th grade — CS50 — introduced me to the principles of computer science and software development. This online course motivated me to pursue computer science through my higher studies and eventually set the path for my career interests.
While building this skill set in the 10th grade, I delved into computing research with a problem that was inspired by a stagnant river adjacent to my school and the spread of dengue. My solution led to the development of a systematic methodology and its technical implementation, which utilised a drone, rover, and image analysis algorithm to identify dengue hotspots in remote locations. I presented this work at the 18th IEEE EEEIC, Palermo, Italy. This was followed by my second paper based on a theoretical framework for human-robot interaction, which was presented at the 2018 IEEE SMC Junior, Miyazaki, Japan.
Most recently, my experience at Apple’s WWDC18 influenced me to take a close look at AI. Siri Shortcuts showed me the capability of modern virtual assistants in speeding up the daily workflow; it got me thinking about task-based AI and the role of jobs in the future. Captivated by this topic, I wrote an opinion paper titled “Artificial Intelligence and Jobs of the Future: Adaptability Is Key for Human Evolution”, which was published in ACM SIGAI’s AI Matters Vol. 4, Issue. 4. This paper discusses the misconceptions regarding AI and the importance of cooperation between humans and AI for responsible technological advancement.
Publishing these papers not only introduced me to the world of research but also got me to explore the latest developments in the field of technology. As a WWDC19 scholarship winner, I look forward to being inspired by the latest in software from Apple. In addition, I hope to find more topics in the near future where I can apply my research-oriented skillset. On the whole, it goes without saying that today’s digital age provides great opportunities for students around the world.