EE Undergrad Wins National Scholarship for Research Project

August 14, 2012

Electrical Engineering student Akshay Shah is one of 10 undergraduate students nationwide to win the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society 2012 Undergraduate-Pre-graduate scholarship.

The scholarships are awarded annually to attract B.S. and M.S. students to the microwave and  radio frequency (RF) discipline, and to encourage them to pursue a job or Ph.D. degree in this field.

Shah, who will be a junior this fall, says since winning the award he is considering getting a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He was the president of the Class of 2014 last school year and now serves as a University senator.

Shah conducts research in the Columbia High-Speed and Millimeter-wave IC (CoSMIC) lab under the supervision of Professor Harish Krishnaswamy.

Shah praises Krishnaswamy, “who encouraged me to apply for the scholarship and mentored me in my research.”

Krishnaswamy calls Shah one of the top undergraduates in the department.

"I first noticed him in my undergraduate Electromagnetics class (3401) where he showed a keen desire to understand the subject at a deeper and fundamental level," he says. "He is currently working in my lab to devise a sub-millimeter-wave (aka terahertz) active imaging experiment that could have broad impact in the areas of medical imaging and diagnosis and security screening. I am confident that this honor will enable some exciting research in the future."

The $2,500 scholarship provides financial support towards a research project proposed by the student and his mentor, and support to travel and attend the 2013 IEEE International Microwave Symposium, where he will receive his award certificate.

Shah says the scholarship will help him purchase equipment for the millimeter imaging experiment he is currently working on.

Akshay Shah

Age: 20

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Most memorable course: Contemporary Civilization. I had never experienced a course like it before. It was a pleasure arguing philosophy and political theory with my peers and understanding the justification for state, government and civilization.

Favorite spot in NYC: Lincoln Center. I remember a few nights during freshman year where we got pastries from Magnolia and had them at Lincoln Center. I think that was the time I made some of my best friends at Columbia, which is why the place is special for me.

When you were deciding where to apply to college, what attracted you to Columbia SEAS? New York City was probably the biggest attraction. I also wanted to have the liberal arts college experience along with rigorous engineering courses.

How have you already used what you’ve learned here? My courses over the past two years, especially Object Oriented Programming and Intro to Accounting and Finance have been immensely useful at my current internship at the Planning Commission for the Government of India where I work for the Unique Identity Project. 

What is your career goal? I definitely want to go back to India and start something on my own. Maybe a start up or a factory. Eventually though I want to get involved in public service or politics