A niche in research and podcasting

Tanmay Agarwal, in suit jacket and glasses, stands before a concrete structure.

As a computer science major, Tanmay Agarwal believes that pursuing a career in research should be lauded as highly as getting a job at a Google or a Microsoft. So the graduating senior (class of ’21) in the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) started his own podcast—“Undergraduate AI,” where he interviewed professors and industry researchers. 

The podcast gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the researchers entered their careers, how their failures have guided their successes, and why they love their jobs. Agarwal started the podcast in summer 2020, but had to put it on hold when school began in the fall. He graduates this spring and plans to revive it while working as a computer vision engineer in Minneapolis.  

His four years in CSE have given Agarwal a sharp insight into what makes computer science in general and artificial intelligence in particular so fascinating to him and valuable to society.

“I am passionate about developing technologies that mimic the human cognition,” he explains. “For example, one could use mathematical and statistical models to model and mimic how the human brain would interpret videos or signals received by the eyes, and then try to model it artificially for robots. I think this work will be very fulfilling and have positive results if done right.

“Academia and research allow you to explore new fields and be continuously innovative in your work, and that's something that I personally find really motivating.”

Agarwal worked with Junaed Sattar, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, to build underwater robots that can follow scuba divers on a mission, or even lead them—a “completely unexplored” area.

Computer science is a hot field, but Agarwal encourages other students to keep going despite the competition.

“There will always be people who end up doing really well really fast,” he says. “However … remember that everyone learns at a different pace and grows at their own speed. Don’t judge yourself based on others and don’t be scared of others’ accomplishments, especially when you’re just getting started with the program.”

Read more about this outstanding student, listen to podcasts.

Get acquainted with the U of M Minnesota Institute for Robotics.