Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Saurabh Sangamwar - Nothing is Impossible

Yesterday (February 12, 2019),  Saurabh Sangamwar defended his MS thesis Grouping Calendar Variables for Electric Load Forecasting.

Saurabh Sangamwar's MS thesis defense
From left to right: Dr. Liquan Bai, Saurabh Sangamwar, Dr. Pu Wang, Dr. Tao Hong

Saurabh received his B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from K J Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai, in 2015. After working in India for two years, he joined our MSEM program in Fall 2017. 

I still remember the scene of our first conversation a year ago, when he expressed his interest in joining BigDEAL.

"learn SAS and get the SAS Base Programmer Certification." I told him the same as what I said to the other students.

"I did." Saurabh said. 

"Then go ahead and get the SAS Advance Programmer Certification." I responded. 

"I've done that too." He said. 

Apparently, he came to me so well prepared, and he was the first student I met this well prepared. 

I admitted him without a blink. 

The topic I gave him is about grouping calendar variables. It took him a while to get the preliminary results. Then I asked him to change a few parameters in his algorithms, and refresh the results. I took him another long while to get the second batch done. I saw him working hard everyday, so I was wondering why it took so long to get the results. During the conversation, I realized that his code is not fully automated. In other words, he had to do a lot of manual work to get the results. I also understood that he did have any programming background until last semester, when he was preparing for the SAS certification exams. 

I'm a professor who likes to pull the students out of their comfort zone. Knowing his weakness, I increased the programming requirements in his master thesis research, so that he can sharpen his programming skills. 

Saurabh did not disappoint me. Over the following few months, he automated his code, picked up parallel computing techniques, and even learned additional languages such as Python and R. Moreover, he is one of the few students took two tough courses from me and got a 4.0 GPA. 

To Saurabh, nothing is impossible. 


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