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Raghu Katragadda, an international student from Hyderabad, India, will be completing the last semester of his master’s degree (Operations Research) in December, but will stay on at UAH to pursue his PhD. In addition to his coursework, Raghu is an active member of the UAH Indian Students Organization, and performed with fellow members during the 2016 Diwali festival on November 6th. (See video HERE.)
How did you decide on ISE? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
My undergraduate degree was in mechanical engineering at Vignana Jyoti Institute of Engineering and Technology in Bolarum, India. Industrial engineering courses really pulled my interest, such as Operations Research and Engineering Economics. I did well in those subjects, so that’s when I decided to shift my department. Once I finished my undergraduate courses I went to work for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on the engineering and industrial services side. I worked for Nissan as a design engineer. Then I took a break and came here for my master’s. First I was at the business school for a master of information systems degree. Since I’d worked for TCS, I wanted to go to the management side but if I do that, my experience will not be counted because it’s a change in field. So I contacted Dr. Collopy to change departments. He asked me the reason and I couldn’t give him a valid one. So to prove myself I did well in my courses, and then last spring he gave me the opportunity to work as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) teaching Probability and Statistics.
How did you choose UAH?
Out of all the choices I looked at, including Oklahoma and Arizona universities, this one had good opportunities—good research and opportunities to explore yourself. As soon as I got my admission, I was in touch with Dr. Messimer and Dr. Swain. The way they were talking, I was really comfortable and got a very good impression of this university.
What did you do over the summer?
I was a graduate research assistant for Dr. Messimer and worked with Albert Patterson (a clinical instructor at that time) in the Additive Manufacturing Lab. We were working on an automated assembly project and conducting material characterization studies on different types of plastic used in additive manufacturing. And I took a practicum course, Engineering Reliability.
Do you have family in the states?
My dad’s brother stays in California, but all of my family was in India. I have a couple of cousins in the U.S. doing their master’s, and my sister came to Utah State University in August; she’s doing her master’s in computer science. She’s doing really well; she’s working as a tutor there.
What plans do you have for the future?
I’m not looking too far into the future. The short term goal is for me to work here in the U.S. for four to five years. Since I already have three years of work experience, I know what the work side looks like. When I worked for Nissan, I used to start my day at 8am and often worked until 9PM because of the requirements. I’m kind of fed up with the corporate style for long term career, so I’m looking to set up a business in India. I would probably start up a manufacturing firm with a couple of friends. We haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet, but we want to get some exposure and improve our knowledge.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
I’m still working with Dr. Messimer on Additive Manufacturing stuff. I’m working on two projects: an environmental chamber for additive manufacturing and figuring out ways to print nylon on stainless steel. And I’m also doing projects as a part of my coursework.
What kind of projects satisfy you most?
To be honest, whichever gives me the most knowledge that improves my skills. I do like doing research, and I like teaching, as well. My dad is a lecturer so I take classes to help my dad as a tutor. I would like to teach if given the opportunity. I love mathematics and that’s what I would like to teach. I have helped students when they’ve had questioned in math classes and my GTA teaching position.