Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Southwestern Senior Returns from Second Summer at NIST

  • Yash Gandhi, Class of 2019.
    Yash Gandhi, Class of 2019.

Sometimes being a known entity is the best way to land a job.

For Southwestern senior Yash Gandhi, a recommendation from an employee at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) helped him secure an internship there for the second summer in a row. Last summer he worked on the development of 5G cellular technology, but this year he was able to take on a new, challenging project.

Yash’s work revolved around LiDAR point clouds, which are large, geographic, three-dimensional data sets collected with laser scanners.

“Point clouds are 3D images that can be taken using a special device called a LiDAR. Basically, instead of the 2D points in a picture, there is now a 3rd dimension, the depth,” Gandhi explains. “Using this data, I created an AI algorithm that could detect what type of object was being represented in the image.”

This technology was not only interesting to Gandhi, but also something that could be very practical for many people in the future.

“With these techniques, I was creating groundwork for a process that could help first responders, in emergency situations, create dynamically changing maps. This robotic vision process would be able to localize itself in an unknown map, then map the unknown area and also mark and classify objects of interest to the first responder,” Gandhi says.

Gandhi pointed out several things that made his summer experience valuable. First, he gained new knowledge of neural networks and artificial intelligence used in his project. His Southwestern education helped him in particular with understanding this part of his internship.

“Because I am constantly striving to make connections (at Southwestern), I was able to understand the biological aspects of the neural network and apply really interesting algorithms to the problem I was given,” Gandhi said. “Without my Southwestern education, it might not have been as easy to implement robust solutions.”

In addition, he began working on a paper this summer that, when completed, will be published to the computer vision community. Yash also narrowed down what he wants to study after his time at Southwestern is done.

“I want to study artificial intelligence and especially computer vision in graduate school. I’m looking into a lot of different Ph.D programs,” he said.

Back on campus this fall, Yash has begun his senior year and his term as Chair of the Student Philanthropy Council. He will augment his academic work with this leadership opportunity, and in addition to educating current students on philanthropy, he will make a small gift to the University.

“I wouldn’t be able to come to Southwestern without the generous donations from others, so this is my way of giving back,” he says.

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