Get to Know Hima Bindu
Hima Bindu, a 2017 Richard E, Merwin Student Scholar, is an undergraduate student in Computer Science and Engineering at Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering (SCTCE) which is part of the Kerala Technological University where she has been actively involved in various branch and inter-branch activities. Hima has served as the Secretary of the student branch and also as the Technical Committee member. She is the organizer and ambassador of “Project: The Confidence Code,” an initiative under IEEE Women in Engineering affinity group focused on bridging the confidence gap between genders. She won second place at the Global Short video contest conducted by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology affinity group. Hima is also a core committee member of TEDx Thiruvananthapuram, the recipient of The Prime Minister’s scholarship for excellence in academics, the Director General’s Meritorious award in Academics, and an active organizer of events at her collegial fest.
How did you first get interested in computer science/engineering?
I had always been an ardent lover of mathematics, physics and their applications throughout my school life. I enjoyed deciphering and comprehending various concepts in these disciplines. My school curriculum had introduced me to Computer Science as a course and I found it to be this stunning and powerful tool that applied the very fundamental and ravishing concepts of my favorite disciplines to create solutions of so many worldly problems. The most striking feature of the field of Computer Science to me was its potential to touch lives in such an enormous and powerful way by creating something out of primarily nothing but logic. It makes sense – both literally and figuratively, on so many levels. In fact, one of my very recent summer projects (a techno-social outreach program) was based on this very concept of exploring the power and potential of Computer Science in creating solutions to societal problems.
Tell us more about the techno-social outreach program.
The program is called Random Acts of Kindness and we envisioned it to be a compassion project to instill and explore the power of emotion in technology. The primary aim was to bust the myth over the seemingly monotonous and inaccurate awareness/assumption about what engineers (and technology, on a broader sense) can do for the society and the extent to which they can really solve societal issues. To create an opportunity for girls in STEM (and to save a seat for them at the table), we made it mandatory for each team to have at least one female member. The participating teams were asked to identify a focus group – which could be an orphanage, old age homes, or even a group such as ‘women’ or ‘youth’ that they would be working for. After identifying the focus groups, the teams tried to single out issues that these groups face and brainstormed how technology can be used to solve those issues.
One of the notable entries that we received included an incredible project based on Image Processing and Machine Learning for the visually impaired. The teams have been invested in building these projects over the summer. We were fortunate enough to get the support and partnership of Google’s Women Techmakers group and also Servntire Global – a leading Information Technology company focusing on future technologies like Blockchain, Cloud, IOT and Analytics. The winning team would get to intern at the company and also, all participating teams will attend an amazing event that we will host in partnership with the Women Techmakers group. So this initiative resulted into a lot of fascinating conversations, changes in perspectives and it also brought about social accountability and professional competence to the participating teams – and that’s what we set out to do.
Where do you go to school? What are you majoring in?
I am currently pursuing my Bachelors in Technology in Kerala Technological University, majoring in Computer Science and Engineering.
What would be your dream job once you’ve established yourself in the industry?
My strengths lie in analytical thinking and having a profound interest in and concern for community development and well-being. I love solving challenging problems and finding newer, more creative ways to approach them. Data Science is one of the most exciting inter-disciplinary emerging fields that has the potential to solve all kinds of problems humanity faces – be it the study of the environment, government, consumer practices and even education; the application of this field goes across all socio-cultural, economic and geographic domains and understands their true, current conditions. It helps us to perceive and scrutinize actual phenomena, and also describes factors that are the causes of various issues and the factors that guide/lead us to the solutions. It is rightfully termed to be the fourth paradigm of science.
So, my dream job would be to work on a variety of projects and solve problems revolving around humanities and sciences, education systems, social good, public policies to name a few – using the analytical techniques of Data Science coupled with Machine Learning.
As a 2017 Richard E. Merwin Student Scholarship winner, one of the roles with winning the award is to serve as a Computer Society Student Ambassador for your IEEE section. How are you implementing your vision into the Computer Society?
As one of the ambassadors for the Asia Pacific Region, I have been trying to continue the legacy of the IEEE Computer Society to the best of my abilities and interests. My efforts have been primarily focused on reviving and improving chapter activities by collaborating with the executive committee members of other branches, from the ideation phase to mobilizing resources for their implementation. I have put in efforts into spreading awareness about various opportunities that the students can benefit off of, encouraging them to explore more, providing much needed guidance and support to fellow members of various student branches wherever and whenever necessary. Creating a framework that helps students reach out for resources and ideas effectively and efficiently and also building a community of like-minded people with a constructive mindset and helping nature has proven to be extremely beneficial in producing a dynamic community of chapters and student branches.
I have also initiated events and discussions focused on imbibing a humanitarian approach to the use of technology that encourages students and IT professionals to brainstorm technical ideas and build projects for solving various societal issues.
What made you join IEEE Computer Society?
The major attraction for me to join the IEEE Computer Society was the huge pool of resources and also an amazing community of members focused on advancing technology for humanity. It really elevates my confidence in pursuing my dreams knowing that I have access to so much knowledge and support from IEEE. The IEEE Spectrum newsletter and the webinars by the society are two of my favorite resources.