TA Spotlight: Vrinda Nandan

Every other week we spotlight an OMSCS TA, so you can get to know who's behind the screen. Here are four questions for Vrinda Nandan who TAs CS 6460: Educational Technology.

Vrinda Nandan

What do you do professionally?
I have previously worked in CPU architecture, mixed-signal design, and embedded software engineering roles at Intel, Cirrus Logic, and Texas Instruments. I recently founded Veralogiq, a technology partner for small businesses.

Why do you TA for OMSCS?
As a TA, my work involves a combination of mentoring and teaching. Mentors have played an important role in my career journey, and I mentor to pay it forward. As a teacher, I derive satisfaction from seeing students' progress. Teaching also allows me to engage with the curriculum through new and diverse perspectives, ultimately helping me learn at a deeper level. Specifically, in CS6460 (Educational Technology), the capstone project model is proving to be an enriching experience due to the sheer breadth of student-selected “passion projects” and exceptional student creativity.

What's your advice for future students in OMSCS?
Start early and go beyond. Aim to maximize learning instead of frantically jumping from deadline to deadline. Manage your time wisely and maintain a healthy personal life. One of the hallmarks of the OMSCS programs is the immense opportunity for peer learning. Pay attention to Piazza and Slack (and other resources) for hints, pitfalls, and community interactions.

What's your favorite memory from your time in or working with OMSCS so far?
During my first semester as an OMSCS student, I was taking Ed Tech (CS 6460), which revolves around a capstone project and requires self-directed systematic academic research and development. The following quote from Dr. Joyner helped me gain perspective while drinking from the research firehose and eventually publish the resulting work in ACM's Learning at Scale Journal:  “It’s natural to look at these [research] woods and see nothing but chaos and confusion and feel lost. There is no map because the land hasn't been defined yet. Your goal is merely to grab a shovel and go help dig that hole. Maybe that hole becomes a house; maybe it gets filled in a week later by the dirt dug up for a different hole. But we won't know until we try. The important thing is just for you to learn enough to be able to contribute in some small way.”