Subramanian’s Scholarship Fund Supports Open-Minded, Knowledge-Thirsty Students | Computing

Looking back, Umesh Subramanian thinks he couldn’t have predicted where his graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would take him.

Umesh Subramanian recently established a scholarship fund for an overseas undergraduate computer science student in hopes of providing an opportunity for growth and learning similar to his own experience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In a narrow sense, this includes never anticipating his current position as Chief Technology Officer at Citadel, one of the world’s leading alternative investment managers, or his previous position as Partner and Co-Chief Technology Officer at Goldman Sachs. . In a broader sense, he now credits the University with opening his mind to new traits and skills he never expected to acquire.

After earning an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in his home country, Subramanian knew he wanted to continue his studies in the United States.

He soon enrolled in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at Grainger College of Engineering. In a leap of faith, Subramanian made this decision based on positive interactions with others about the University – primarily focused on its student-centered education and powerful research capabilities.

However, before enrolling, Subramanian never visited the campus. He said he didn’t know how flat the surrounding prairie is or how cold the winters are. But he dug into industrial engineering and operations research, which quickly intersected with Illinois computer science thanks to an interest in virtual reality and software engineering.

As soon as he came to this university with a dream of opportunity, Subramanian said his experience matched his dreams. He thrived in a collaborative research environment that opened his eyes to how many different disciplines could help an engineer solve problems.

That sentiment drove his recent scholarship fund, for an out-of-state undergraduate student in the Department of Computer Science.

“I strongly believe in breaking down barriers and creating pathways for people to realize their potential, and it’s an honor to support Grainger College of Engineering who share this commitment,” said Subramanian. “I think this scholarship would be a success if it had an impact on someone’s life, and that person experiences a similar sense of pride and sense of accomplishment in attending Illinois.”

It’s exciting for Subramanian to imagine the first student to receive the scholarship, as it gives him a moment to reflect on his own path.

This career path began at Morgan Stanley.

Specifically, it started at an on-campus career event where three Morgan Stanley representatives presented. Subramanian stood in the back, absorbing information but unsure if he was suited for any kind of role in the financial industry.

But it was a chance interaction with one of the three presenters that changed his mind.

“This person looked at me and said, ‘Look, fluid mechanics and Brownian motion are applicable in finance.’ Before that, I couldn’t have imagined such applicability to what I knew in this particular field,” Subramanian said. “It just goes to show that you can never predict how or when the education you received from ‘Illinois will help you.’

Although this initial interest was left to chance, it was still based on a core set of skills that he spent years developing.

Subramanian never intended to apply these traits in the financial sector. But those skills, just as they would if used in a more traditionally engineering-related industry, enabled him to transcend the problem and solve it like an engineer.

When he pursued his master’s degree, Subramanian said it was his advisor – Placid Ferreira – who gave him “the freedom and luxury” to study other disciplines. Thanks to this effort, he began to understand the field of computer science much more clearly.

He took courses, first, in industrial engineering and operational research. Then he opened up to the principles of software and virtual reality in computing.

Outside of the classroom, Subramanian led multidisciplinary research efforts at the Beckman Institute. He also applied his knowledge during an internship at Caterpillar.

And now, 20 years later, he’s impressed with Illinois Computer Science’s plan to meet students where they are through interdisciplinary degrees — like the CS+X program. This degree option allows students to pursue a flexible curriculum integrating a strong background in computer science with technical or vocational training in the arts and sciences.

A chat with Grainger’s dean of engineering, Rashid Bashir, and Illinois CS department head, Nancy M. Amato, told Subramanian how these types of efforts align with his experience and interests.

For the past two years, he has been a member of the Grainger Engineering Visitors’ Committee, which has allowed greater access to these conversations. And it left him impressed with the positioning of engineering and computer science education for the future.

“When I see an institution being this forward thinking in doing what it needs to do, that’s a very compelling reason for me to be part of this journey,” Subramanian said. “I feel like this university has given me this amazing education and empowered people like me – and so many others – to pursue our academic and professional interests to the fullest extent possible.

“The scholarship is just a small token of appreciation from me, but if someone else was graduating from Illinois and felt the same affinity for – and perhaps felt the need to give back – at Grainger Engineering or Illinois Computer Science, that would be a great result.

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