Top CS @ ILLINOIS Students Named 2018 Siebel Scholars

10/18/2017 Samantha Hendon, CS @ ILLINOIS

As a result of their outstanding academic record and leadership, five students will receive $35,000 during their final year of study.

Written by Samantha Hendon, CS @ ILLINOIS

Five exceptional CS @ ILLINOIS master’s students have been recognized for their outstanding academic achievements and leadership, each receiving $35,000 during their final year of study.

Meet the Siebel Scholars Class of 2018:

Jake Bailey
​Jake Bailey is a graduate student in his final year of the five-year BS-MS computer science program. His research is focused on computer science education, aimed at creating new computer-based learning systems to improve the CS curriculum, advised by Professor Craig Zilles. With three years of experience teaching Computer Architecture (CS 233) and a year teaching System Programming (CS 241), Jake has strived to help students both in practice through contributions like autogenerated MIPS exams and fast responses to student questions, and in research by modeling exam scheduling. He plans to integrate new lessons into the Software Design Studio course (CS 126) to teach essential terminal skills alongside the course’s core programming practice content.

Jake has been an intern at tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Beyond CS education, he’s passionate about programming languages, including design, implementation, compilation, and the effect languages have on the software development process itself.

Milica Hadzi-Tanovic
Milica Hadzi-Tanovic, a MS computer science student, is actively engaged in a variety of research groups in the department. She is working with Professor Darko Marinov in software testing (test selection and test prioritization), Professor Grigore Rosu on monitoring test executions, and Professor Kevin Chang on natural language processing.

Milica received her bachelor’s degree from the University of San Francisco (USF) in 2015 where she graduated at the top of her class. While at USF, she worked as a teacher assistant for various classes. After graduation, she completed a six-month internship at FIS in Belgrade where she worked on developing a new software for banks that operate at the stock market. She also worked for a startup based in San Francisco where she developed encryption systems for a new peer-to-peer file sharing network.

Sujay Khandekar
Sujay Khandekar is enrolled in the five-year BS-MS computer science degree program, while also working towards a minor in Technology & Management. His research interests are grounded in Human-Computer Interaction and Data Driven Design. Working with Professor Ranjitha Kumar, he wants to understand how to make digital apps simpler, universal, and informative through a deep analysis of modern day messaging, rating systems, and app designs.

Sujay has experience in design mining for Android apps, where designers explore an automatically-generated collection of design patterns across a variety of Android apps. He is currently working to understand modern-day communication methods by examining the effects of rich media such as emojis, stickers, photos, and video. Last semester, he was named a 2017 Knight of St. Patrick and has thoroughly enjoyed his engagement with a variety of CS @ ILLINOIS student groups by holding leadership roles with ACM, Reflections | Projections, HackIllinois, and Women in Computer Science.

Unnat Jain
Unnat is a MS student in computer science and focused on applications of Machine Learning to image-based text generation, autonomous driving and reinforcement learning. His work with Professor Alexander Schwing - ‘Generating Diverse Questions using Variational Autoencoders’, was accepted as a spotlight at CVPR 2017. His work on visual place recognition was accepted at Conference on Computer and Robot Vision (CRV) 2017 as an oral presentation. He has worked as an intern at Uber’s Self Driving Project, Fresh Gravity, UMass Amherst, Deutsche Bank, and KPMG.

Prior to joining Illinois, Unnat graduated with the Director’s Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He was also awarded Cadence Gold Medal for best research thesis across all engineering departments. He led a social initiatives team at IIT Kanpur and contributed to creating an innovative gamified-aid for children with intellectual disability.

Jayasi Mehar

Working as a member of Professor Indranil Gupta’s research group, Jayasi Mehar is interested in distributed systems and networks, and her most recent projects focused on performance optimizations of large scale data processing cloud systems. She interned at VMware in the network virtualization team and INRIA in France where she worked on developing a system to process real time environmental data to aid the policy decisions of the European Union. Mehar received her bachelor’s degree from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi, where she co-founded Backpack, an ed tech, mobile first startup which allows instructors to take their classrooms online. Backpack was able to enhance the learning experience for students, and is currently being used by over 30 universities and thousands of users across the globe.

Congratulations to all of our Siebel Scholars!

About Siebel Scholars: Siebel Scholars are examining some of today’s most pressing problems and advancing on solutions. The principles underlying Siebel Scholars’ efforts are social responsibility, entrepreneurship, and lifelong community. The program was established in 2000 by the Thomas (BA History ’75, MBA ’83, MS CS ’85) and Stacey Siebel Foundation to recognize the most talented students in the world’s leading graduate schools of business, computer science, bioengineering, and energy science. Each year, more than 90 graduate students at the top of their class are selected.

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This story was published October 18, 2017.