Harleen Brar

B.S.A.E. 2016

After graduation, what's your next adventure?

I’m a BS/MS student, so I’m coming back to grad school to work with Dr. [Evangelos] Theodorou. Eventually, I think, I’d like to get a PhD in machine learning.

What about your next adventure are you most excited about?

Learning more from our research. The project we’re working on is interesting because we are using two different concepts to model and control. We’re comparing them to see if we can control epileptic seizures. My mother told me that she was proud to know that the work I was doing would make other people's lives better.

Did you have any previous co-op internship or research experience that helped you get to this point?

I did an internship with Northrop Grumman last summer, but mostly I've been involved in research. My first research experience was in ASDL where I focused on low-earth orbit debris mitigation methods. That project showed me how grad students work together on projects and how to approach research. It was weird at first because there were so many smart people working on the project, and I didn’t know if I had anything to offer them. But I learned a lot. My sophomore year I emailed Dr. Rimoli to ask him if I could do some research in structural mechanics, and he said yes. That’s when I learned about how to use Mattlab to do finite element analysis. After that, I connected with Dr. [Evangelos] Theodorou who mentored me on a project to predict and control epileptic seizures. That’s what we are still working on, and it will be my focus when I begin graduate school.

How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you achieve your goal?

Earning my undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering was not easy. Sometimes, I think about it and feels like I was tripping all the time but never actually hitting the ground.  I didn’t know if I had what it takes to be here until I dug into my research and got to work. The thing is, if you ask the questions, the school opens up all sorts of opportunities. The professors, the classes, the research – they are all there with options. The reason I got involved in this epilepsy research was that I was asking Dr. Theodorou about some homework one day and we just started talking more and more about different concepts. That conversation led him to ask me if I wanted to work on this research.

What advice would you give a student who was thinking about following your steps at Georgia Tech's aerospace engineering school?

My advice would be based on my one big mistake: I took too many classes my first semester. You don’t have to take 18 hours a semester. I cut down after that, and, while it’s taken a bit longer to finish, it’s been worth it. I’ve been able to do other things, like work as a tutor. And I’m heading to graduate school to do some interesting research. It’s important to not think about how you don’t fit in. Yes, you are around a lot of really smart people, but you have to decide that you are one of them.