Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

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Kinshuk Panda

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering

Hometown:  New Delhi, Delhi, India

Undergraduate Study: BE Mechanical Engg., Manipal Institute of Technology

Degree(s) Sought:  PhD Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisor:  Jason E. Hicken

Expected year of graduation: 2019


Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.

My current research is in a dimension reduction approach for optimization under uncertainty. While the work can be applied to any discipline that uses statistics, the current work is focused on aerospace applications, particularly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The eventual aim is to design UAVs that show minimal degradation in performance even when subjected to adverse conditions.


What made you decide to attend Rensselaer?

RPI is one of the oldest engineering institutions and has a history of creating leaders in their fields. It has strong industry ties and a robust computing infrastructure that facilitates solving of complex numerical problems. In addition, there are several examples of inter-departmental collaboration which prevents sandboxing of ideas and accelerate research and development.


What has been the most surprising thing about your time at RPI?

The extent of student engagement in the decision making process is unlike anything I have seen before. The Rensselaer Union is an excellent example of students, undergraduate and graduate, coming together and finding solutions to improve student experience.


What is your favorite aspect of community life at RPI?

RPI has a very friendly atmosphere. This applies to everyone, from leadership, administrators, teachers, and students. The graduate student community is very diverse, with almost half of the student population being international. I have had the opportunity to live and work with people from France, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Turkey, and China. It is fascinating to learn about their culture and traditions. The different student associations organize cultural events that are always a joy to attend.


What is your favorite thing about living in the Capital region?

The Capital region offers almost all the amenities of a metropolis while maintaining a small town feel. There is something for everyone in the area. Troy’s historical district has beautiful architecture and plenty of restaurants and bars to go out with friends. Artists and bands love to visit Saratoga, which also has an active Latin dance community. Adirondacks and Vermont are within an hour of driving for people who like to hike and snowboard. As a fan of motorsports, I really like the fact that iconic racetracks are within a driving distance.


What is the best piece of advice you could give someone looking to go to graduate school at RPI?

It is important to take time off from research to pursue your hobbies, socialize, make new friends and create a support structure. It is very easy to get holed up in your lab or office and not see anyone but your lab mates.  RPI and Troy, in general, have a lot to offer and I recommend making full use of it.