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CICS Graduate Student Becomes Mentor in Quantum-Based Technology Hackathon

Aishwarya Sahai
Aishwarya Sahai

The time starts now. From March 30 through April 1, teams participating in the annual NYU Abu Dhabi International Hackathon for Social Good are challenged to produce an idea, execute a project with a team and present it to a panel of judges and all the other participant groups in the room.

UMass Amherst graduate student Aishwarya Sahai was one of the 50 selected from more than 600 applicants to mentor a team of students during the prestigious competition, which aims to create solutions to the problems that the world faces today. Sahai is currently enrolled in the master's-level computer science program within the Manning College of Information & Computer Sciences.  

"You know, I'm really lucky. My job is to oversee students and help them when they are stuck, as well as give them ideas and lead them in the right direction," Sahai says.

As an undergraduate student at the National Institute of Technology in Patna, India, Sahai also studied computer science, graduating with her bachelor's degree in 2016. Since then, she has competed in several hackathons. 

"Having participated in hackathons in the past few years, I feel like they not only help in solving complex problems, but they also help in learning and collaboration," Sahai explains. "Working within a team helps you learn new skills such as presenting and public speaking."  

A project Sahai says she's proudest of stems from a hackathon hosted by Microsoft in 2019. There, Sahai and her team developed an app that would assist people who are visually impaired to use their mobile phones, a project that earned Sahai and her team third place out the more than 1,000 submitted projects. 

"I'm most proud of because it caters to a different community [from mine] and brought inclusivity," Sahai says.   

Sahai says she's committed to inclusivity and works toward that goal as an active member of the Women of Color Leadership Network (WOCLN).

In summer of 2022, she plans to intern at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., and says she hopes to get back into software development after she graduates from UMass Amherst.  

Before any of that, though, Sahai says she's looking forward to mentoring at NYU Abu Dhabi, and hopes to learn from her team, exchange ideas and knowledge and expand her skillset.  

"I'm most excited for meeting fellow participants and mentors from all around the globe and hearing their ideas," she says.

This article was originally published by the UMass Amherst News Office.