UHV graduate students find time for new skills and publish research | New


Vu Pham and Pavithra Sivashanmugam, graduate students from the University of Houston-Victoria, come from different backgrounds in IT but had similar goals while working from home during the pandemic – to improve their skills and learn more about their respective fields .

“When you like something, you’ll find a way to take time for it,” Pham said. “For me that sometimes means working on a solution or studying late until I find a result, or at least seeing good results before I go to bed.”

Pham and Sivashanmugam, both residents of Katy, are studying for a Master of Science in Computer Science at UHV. The two students started the program last year at the height of the pandemic.

Pham has been in the IT industry for about 20 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the National University of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City and a professional certificate in artificial intelligence from Stanford University. He also holds several certificates and licenses in areas such as Applied Data Science with Python, Google Cloud, Deep Learning Specialization, and Image and Video Processing.

He first started out in computer networks and became familiar with operating systems to better understand computers and work with system settings. From there, he broadened his knowledge and learned the languages ​​of Google, Java and more. This has led him to his career as a software engineer for the past 15 years. He is currently working in the Houston area as an analyst and programmer.

Pham has been working from home since the start of the pandemic and has found himself with overtime. Before the pandemic, he traveled three hours to go to work and return each day. With this extra time, Pham wanted to do something that would be useful in his career and decided last fall to enroll in a graduate program while working full time. He chose UHV because the university’s teaching site at Katy would be nearby.

“I was like, ‘What can I do with this extra time that would benefit my career and my life?’” He said. “I thought going back to school and getting my master’s degree would have two benefits. The first is good for my resume, and the second, a teacher could help me fill in the gaps in my knowledge.

For Sivashanmugam, his IT career started on the hardware side as an electronics engineer.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics from Anna University in India. Her interest in computer software began when she was a college student. She began to learn how computer hardware and software work together and began to learn computer languages ​​such as C ++ and Java on her own. She quickly began to work as a student on college campus in a support team. Meanwhile, information technology was becoming a job in all fields, she said. Sivashanmugam and his friends have developed a simple web development application to help schools order uniforms.

She quickly moved on to work in programming for companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Telecom Solutions. After a decade of working in programming, she moved to Houston a few years ago and decided to pursue graduate studies full time. She enrolled in UHV’s graduate computer science program and now volunteers her time to give advice to family members facing website challenges such as automation and project tracking. .

Her goal after graduating from the program is to pursue work in data science, web development, or programming.

“I’m not from a computer background, so a master’s degree would improve my knowledge,” she said. “Now I’ve learned more about cybersecurity, data science, and networking. This diploma therefore allowed me to acquire in-depth knowledge to progress in my career or even change my career path. “

The two students were also able to use their experience and what they learned in the program when Hardik Gohel, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UHV, presented them with the opportunity to conduct research and testing for an article by academic research titled “Automated predictive analysis tool for precipitation forecasting.”

The article included research on precipitation forecasting using artificial intelligence and was written by a team including Pham, Sivashanmugam, Gohel, and Yun Wan, chair of the UHV Computing program and professor of systems at UHV. computer information.

Since the two students had previously taken data science and machine learning courses, they conducted research on how machine learning and programming tools could be used to develop artificial intelligence that would be beneficial. for environmental research, he said. For the article, the group researched and tested algorithms that could help predict precipitation.

“There is a need for significant research in environmental science and engineering using artificial intelligence,” Gohel said. “Although this article is about forecasting precipitation, the same models could be used for hurricane forecasting and other weather forecasts. This type of environmental research and tools could be of benefit to many entities, from individual meteorologists and organizations to governments. Graduate computer science students have gained industry-level applied research experience through this research paper, which will help our graduate students achieve competitive career goals.

Pham has been working with machine learning for a few years, so when the opportunity to work with machine learning techniques for research presented itself, he was excited to apply his knowledge and experience. For the research article, Pham mainly worked on the development of machine learning and conducted experiments with algorithms to ensure that the algorithms were performing as well as possible.

“I think this research is good because of the environmental factors and because I was able to apply all the knowledge we learned in our classes and my experience,” he said. “There are some things that happen in real life and not in the classroom, so doing more research to find solutions has been a great experience for us. “

Sivashanmugam worked on the testing algorithms for research. What she liked about working on the research article was the strengthening of her knowledge and skills that it provided her. Along with learning in her classes, work for the research project helped cement new knowledge, she said.

The research article was recently printed in Scientific Reports, an open access journal published by the journal Nature. Scientific Reports is the sixth most cited journal in the world, according to the journal’s website. This is the first time that the two students have published research.

“We are proud to recognize the fantastic work our students and faculty do in their research efforts,” said Joann Olson, Vice-President, Research and Dean of Graduate Studies. “As Dr. Gohel said, this particular study has far-reaching implications, and publication in a high-impact journal like Scientific Reports will multiply the influence of this work.”

Both students and faculty will present their research in a new series next month called UHV Discovers, a platform for UHV professors to present their research.

“I was so happy when I found out that all of our hard work and efforts had been published,” Sivashanmugam said. “I have learned so much being part of this team. It is so helpful to do more than just school lessons. You never know how much you will earn by doing more research.


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