October is reaching its end which means its come time to announce our next Tech Student of the Month! This month, we are pleased to highlight Shashank Srinivas, a striving scholar at Arizona State University and a member of Team Note-Taker, the second place winners of the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in Software Design! We want to start out by saying congratulations to Team Note-taker and highlight our appreciation for their incredible work by sharing Shashank’s story.
Shashank’s exposure to technology began over fifteen years ago at the young age of three when his father brought home an early version of a personal computer. Brought up in Bangalore, India, technology was not readily available to most so his early exposure to technology helped to set a remarkable precedence in his path as a programmer. In fourth grade, Shashank worked with Logo programming, a multi-paradigm computer programming language often used in education. It was in high school though that he really began developing his software engineering skills. In his freshman and sophomore year, he was expected to learn and implement programming languages such as C Sharp (C+) and HTML as part of the school curriculum. He relied heavily on reading books about various technologies such as hardware engineering and troubleshooting to expand his knowledge and then taught himself by means of trial and error.
As an undergraduate, he worked on creating a variety of human computer interfaces using the Nintendo Wii remote for Head Tracking, interactive whiteboards and image viewer for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He saw out the rest of his undergraduate education in Bangalore and decided to make a move to the US to pursue his Masters in Computer Science at Arizona State University. He viewed this as a strategic move to gain more hands-on experience and streamline his skill-sets by acquiring a quality higher education.
When Shashank began his masters program at A.S.U. in August 2010, he realized that he needed to get a part-time job to cover his living expenses. He applied for a few programming positions on the A.S.U. website and was shortly thereafter contacted by David Hayden, the leader of what would eventually be Team Note-Taker. After the interview, Shashank was given an official invitation to join the team, which he happily accepted. The team soon began working on the third generation of the Note-Taker, designed as a solution to help low-vision students take effective and efficient notes. He and a fellow teammate, Michael Astrauskas, worked together to develop the software using C++ programming and using the QT framework for the Graphical User Interface (GUI). The Note-Taker uses a C# plug-in for Microsoft OneNote, an easy-to-use note-taking and information-management program, to communicate with the internal software. The team utilized open-source libraries for handling the audio and video aspects and a variety of Windows API’s to handle mouse gestures. They also made use of the Windows 7 Ink Analysis API for handwriting recognition and layout classification in order to handle touch input.
Upon completion, Team Note-Taker put their innovation to the test and entered it into the 2011 US Imagine Cup Competition, the world’s premier student technology competition focused on finding solutions to real-world issues. They took Note-Taker all the way to the finals in Redmond, Washington earlier this year and won first-place in Software Design, making them one of the three U.S. teams to compete in the worldwide 2011 Imagine Cup held in New York City. At the worldwide finals, Shashank and his teammates were given opportunities that other students dream of – they got to meet and talk to Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, and Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education! Team Note-Taker topped off their experience by placing second at the worldwide competition from over 358,000 students from 183 different countries. We are extremely proud of Shashank and the rest of the team for their extraordinary accomplishments in the Imagine Cup competitions and send our appreciation for their hard work and dedication to creating a viable solution to a real-life problem.
As for Shashank, he is currently writing his thesis in Cyber Physical Systems Laboratory related to Robotics at Arizona State University. He hopes to pursue a Ph.D. at A.S.U. and contribute to research around Robotics in the future. We wish him the very best of luck!
You can learn more about Team Note-Taker by visiting the Microsoft Tech Student Imagine Cup Facebook Tab: ICUS
Are you inspired by Shashank’s story and want to live out your dreams? What are you waiting for? Learn how to compete in the U.S Imagine Cup 2012 Competition today!