Influenster Women in STEM Scholarship Winner Spotlight: Sanika Kapale
"Every person can be a part of this journey, and together we can learn, grow and journey together to transform technology!"
Last December, we announced the winners of our 2017 Influenster Scholarship for Women in STEM. As a female founded technology company, Influenster aims to raise awareness of gender inequality in STEM as well as narrow the gap by empowering more women to pursue careers in STEM.
Our five amazing winners specialize in fields that span from design engineering to applied mathematics, and each embodies the potential for what the future of women in STEM holds. To help you get to know our recipients a bit better, we're spotlighting some of the winners! We already shared with you, Masters students, Jenny Fan at Harvard University and Lisa Yan at Carnegie Mellon University. Now meet Sanika Kapale, Electrical and Computer Engineering Masters student at Carnegie Mellon University.
1. What do you think the future of driverless transportation has in store for us?
"Once driverless transportation technology is developed to be safe for complete autonomous behavior, and is deployed on a large-scale in the community, it will become one of the best features of a smart city, and of a smart lifestyle. Self-driven vehicle technology will not only aid the humans who have disabilities which make them incapable of driving, but it will also help humans with their daily busy schedules. While driverless transportation promises to be safer than the current human-driven vehicles (prone to human errors), one can still question how long it would take for a middle-class family to be able to afford a driverless car for themselves after the large-scale deployment. Hence, driverless transportation might be a luxury in the beginning more than a necessity, but will eventually become a part of everyone's lifestyle."
2. How would you ease the mind of anyone still skeptical of automated driving technology?
"The best way is to patiently reason out (by explaining and answering all their questions) with the person who is skeptical of automated driving technology. I would explain to them the methods employed by the modern self-driving cars, like Bayesian Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, wireless and proximity sensing, off-line map into current location estimation and updating, and Visual object recognition using machine vision including neural networks. With that, I would show the statistics of human error vs. machine error, and would try to make the person believe in the technology."
3. What or who inspired you to first study engineering?
"My father, who is a metallurgical engineer himself and planned and constructed large-scale deployment of marine vehicles, was always passionate about his work. His love for creation inspired me to pursue engineering."
4. What’s your favorite gadget on the market now?
"I don't have favorite gadgets, but I do have favorite technologies. For now, my personal favorite in how voice recognition and AI is implemented in Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant."
5. What advice would you give to a woman who is interested in the engineering field but might be intimidated?
"I would encourage any woman (or man, for that matter), to be a part of the on-going STEM study and research. More than anything, STEM provides each person with the opportunity to imagine, ideate, innovate, and finally implement something that he/she has thought of, and thus, create magic! Every person can be a part of this journey, and together we can learn, grow and journey together to transform technology!"
Congrats to Sanika and all our Women in STEM Scholarship Winners!