Original story shared in the Spring 2015 edition of CS Magazine.
As Raghav Sampangi (PhD’15) crossed the stage on May 25, he achieved much more than a PhD in Computer Science: he has set a new standard for student engagement in the Faculty.
Turning inspiration into action
Originally from Mysore, India, Raghav came to Dalhousie in 2011. He was inspired by Dr. Srini Sampalli’s dedication to teaching, and quickly became interested in the opportunities that Dalhousie presented to him.
In just under four years, Raghav has shown passion and determination, resurrecting an in-house conference and starting a new student society.
The Dalhousie Computer Science InHouse Conference – also known as DCSI – began in 2002 as a way for students and profs to showcase their research to industry. While successful in the past, it laid dormant for five years before Raghav and a group of CS students resurrected it in 2012. The success of this conference made it a – now – annual event.
“Before DCSI, we were all working away on our individual research projects, with minimal collaboration with other students and knowledge about others’ work,” he says.
A voice for graduate students
While graduate students make up 30 per cent of the Computer Science student body, Raghav felt they were under-represented on the Faculty Council, on the CS Society and on the board of the Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students (DAGS) and needed a voice.
“In one of the crucial graduate committee meetings discussing pending changes to PhD regulations, no one was there to represent us,” he says. “This motivated us to quickly start the new Computer Science Graduate Society (CSGS).”
Today, CSGS works hard to engage graduate students, create a community and to collaborate with sister societies and the Faculty.
A widespread positive impact
DCSI and CSGS aren’t the only two groups Raghav has been involved with since joining the Faculty of Computer Science (see box below), and his service hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We have seen a lot of great students in this Faculty, but I do not recall one other student who had such an immediately positive impact on the faculty, students, and staff,” says Dean Mike Shepherd. “To recognize his contributions, we presented Raghav with a one-off Special Faculty Appreciation Award at the 2015 Snowball Gala.”
Raghav was as committed to his studies as he was to his extra-curriculars, maintaining high grades and winning awards at conferences. His thesis for his PhD examined security in wireless networks.
While his skills and work ethic would allow him to work anywhere in the world, Raghav wants to stay in Halifax.
“I’m working as a post-doctoral fellow and an instructor here as of May,” he says. “I’ve had the best educational experience of my life, with a chance to work with several highly motivated individuals and to learn from each and every interaction… and Halifax is just a beautiful city to live in!”
Raghav’s long-term ambition is to build a career as an academic. The Faculty of Computer Science is proud that Dalhousie has been an important springboard for that path.