Statement of Purpose
“The number of transistors and resistors on a chip doubles every 18 months” said, Intel
co-founder, Gordon Moore in 1965 when there were approximately 60 transistors on a chip
and there are over a 3 billion today. I was intrigued by Moore’s law ever since my high school,
when I was first introduced to it. I saw the world around me change at a great pace. Room sized
computers transformed into laptops, analog telephones were replaced by mobile handsets,
digital cameras became a more efficient choice over film cameras. Everything in the world
could be stored, transmitted and computed just in a 2-unit binary number system! As I felt a
deep urge to be a part of this revolution, I learnt that these technological transitions were made
possible as logic gates, which were built with interwoven transistors became an integral part of
circuitries. By applying the correct logic to the right set of circuitries, you could solve
thousands of simple and complex problems. This thought has been inspiring me to chase my
goal of becoming a computer engineer/scientist to be able to cater to societal needs by
designing new algorithms or developing innovative computing devices.
During my B.Tech in electronics and communications engineering, I took an instant
liking towards the concepts of switching theory ; logic design, algorithms ; data structures
and embedded systems and wanted to see them being implemented in practical. Along with a
friend, I improvised upon the limited resources available in college, to set up a workshop where
we developed electronic projects, which helped me analyse and understand the functioning of
various devices, both as standalone entities (sensors, ICs, processors, actuators) as well as
integrated modules. For me, the favourite part of the workshop was building various
autonomous robots to take part in multiple state and national level competitions such as
‘Techfest’ at IIT Bombay. This led me to build an autonomous robot for pattern recognition
and replication for my final year project, where I got to implement digital image processing
tools like edge detection, color segmentation, thresholding, etc in MATLAB and establish
serial communication interface between two embedded devices to enable the robot’s movement
based on a line equation algorithm.
Bringing classroom concepts to practical life was indeed a thrilling experience. We
wanted to share this excitement with other students as well. Thus, we founded “Shukra”, a
start-up to complement theory based college education in India with hands-on workshops on
robotics, where my role was to plan and create user-centric customised practical coursework
for the respective undergraduate disciplines and the methods of its delivery. We successfully
conducted workshops in around twelve colleges training over a thousand students in the
process. The other focus of Shukra was to develop technology to tackle real-world problems.
A project which was particularly satisfying to work on was to design a prototype ‘Women
Safety Module’ (a GSM and GPS based stun gun) to help the government fight the constant
threat posed by offenders to women’s dignity. Along with the technical skills, my experience
at the start up helped me polish my managerial, marketing and business development skills. To
gain further corporate exposure, I worked at Cognizant technology solutions where my role
was to provide support to inbound users of a US based client ‘Sears’ by troubleshooting
software applications, hardware, network and telecommunications systems based issues. I grew
a strong liking towards networking and security as I learnt the nitty-gritties of computer
networks implemented on a very large scale. Currently, I am working at Instillmotion labs as
innovation engineer, where we develop organically discovered insights into concepts and
eventually transform them into prototypes. I work on the design and development of products,
ranging from consumer electronics catering to the modern user needs, to inclusively designed
aiding devices for people with visual impairments. I have played an active role in executing
every step of the product cycle: ideation, user research, experimentation, technological proof
of concept, rapid prototyping, computer aided designing, 3D printing, testing, and documenting
the work to aid the patent filing procedure. Out of the many products I worked on, five have
been filed for patents in India (no. 201641039527, 201641039528, 201641039791, 201741021963,
201741005361), three of which list my name as co-inventor, which gives me the confidence to
move forward and push boundaries further.
‘Perivision’, a visual aid for patients with retinitis pigmentosa or tunnel vision, that I
am currently working on, is based on the modern day evolving technologies of virtual reality
and computer vision. An application, developed in ‘Processing’, to interact with the user to
adjust the focus and angle of the live camera feed was implemented on a Raspberry Pi as the
first prototype. The most interesting part was formulating algorithms for retaining depth
perception and replicating human vision in its real sense. ‘Writing Pad’, another economically
viable computational device that I have worked on, required my team to build the technology,
software, operating system and user interface from the scratch to make writing feel the closest
to a pen and paper. It was during this research, when I first realised the power of machine
learning as a tool, which helped us perfect the ground level proof of concept by statistical data
analysis and using well curated and structured training sets for various learning models.
Another product, that I have been an integral part of, is an aesthetically pleasing ‘Bamboo
Speaker’ of optimum radius and length suitable for obtaining maximum gain in the desired
frequencies. We achieved this by doing signal processing analysis of sound waves reflected
from the bamboo’s internal surface. I could envision this art piece being converted into a smart
voice assistant, by integrating a microphone and connecting it to the internet. Intrigued by the
potential that these contemporary technologies possessed in making problem solving such a
logical and simple task, I took up online courses like ‘Introduction to Computer Science-
Python’, ‘Algorithms: design and analysis’, ‘Introduction to Internet of things’, etc. to develop
further understanding of computing. The infinite possibilities of experimentation which help
in further improvisation of an existing ideology or the inception of a new idea is what appeals
to me the most about research and innovation.
From my past work experiences, I have developed a keen interest and understanding of
human computer interaction, cognitive robotics, artificial intelligence and computer vision and
would like to pursue it as a career. Arizona State University is not only a frontrunner in this
field with top-notch infrastructure and research facilities, but also has faculty like Prof. Dr.
Lina Karam and Dr Yezhou Yang, who have done path breaking research in areas like human
visual perception and autonomous intelligent robots respectively. Given a chance to be a part
of the research team, I would be grateful to learn and interact with such great innovators. ASU’s
computer engineering program is a perfect fit for all my interests and aspirations, with
Autonomous Systems ; Robotics as the core area of study. It will add tremendous value and
play a pivotal role in shaping my career and helping me realize my professional goals.
ASU has a lot to offer me and I am confident that I can make significant contributions
to the ongoing research. I am fully aware of the fact that research and the exacting coursework
at ASU calls for extreme levels of dedication, hard work and an appetite for learning. I earnestly
look forward to becoming a part of your elite institution.
Pranav Bajoria