We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 QS World Merit Academic Excellence Scholarship is Abhishek Tandon. \r\n\r\nThe scholarship awards up to US$10,000 to one student starting their first year of a master\u0027s degree and is designed for applicants with an exceptionally strong level of academic excellence to promote innovation and new ideas in different fields of study. \r\n\r\nWe caught up with Abhishek to learn more about his study plans and how he discovered his passion for developing AI technology. \r\n\r\nWhy have you chosen Carnegie Mellon University for your master’s degree? \r\n\r\nCarnegie Mellon University is the top school globally for artificial intelligence and thus is also my ‘dream’ school. Taught by leading faculty, the Master of Science in Computer Vision (MSCV) programme is highly focused and would help me understand the subject rigorously. Paired with the courses are projects and internship opportunities, to apply tech skills and develop interpersonal skills. \r\n\r\nWhere does your interest in AI and Computer Vision stem from? \r\n\r\nI have always been interested in computer science, and with this interest, I started learning about AI in 2017, when AI was starting to become a hot topic. Along with undergraduate courses in the area, I got the opportunity to build a robot to assist older adults in carrying baggage by applying AI algorithms to analyse sensory data. \r\n\r\nThis experience made me aware of the potential of providing such products with the capability to see and understand the world as we humans do. My interest in AI and computer vision developed further as I kept learning and tried my hands on many more applications. \r\n\r\nWhat are some challenges you’ve encountered from trying to use AI technology to create empathetic environments for the elderly? \r\n\r\nMy experience in developing empathetic environments for the elderly using AI is limited and this is something that I want to explore after graduating. But building any technology for older adults faces the below challenges: \r\n\r\n\r\n\t\r\n\tDesign: The design of the product needs to be seamless, so much so, that it is intuitive for them to use, and it clicks with them on the first attempt. \r\n\t\r\n\t\r\n\tProduct Metrics: As builders, we need to develop technology in this space ensuring that it doesn’t have an isolating effect. In this case, product metrics need to change from engagement to time saved for the user and/or frustration prevented for the user. This requires an empathetic mindset, to begin with. \r\n\t\r\n\t\r\n\tEthical: Tech, especially those powered with AI, deals with a lot of data, which in this space is highly personal and private. Measures need to be taken so that the data is ethically used and secured at all times. \r\n\t\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat advice would you give to other students who are looking to make a difference in their local communities but are unsure of where to start? \r\n\r\nI have the below strategies to consider: \r\n\r\n\r\n\t\r\n\tUpskill: Start with learning and developing skills in the field of your interest, be it coding, mobile app development, AI, forming business strategies, analysing data, designing and more. If you are unsure of which field to choose, try to follow some cues, something which comes naturally to you, or you have knowledge of or something which you think would be very useful. Start somewhere and keep learning. \r\n\t\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\t\r\n\tObserve/problem finding: Observe your surroundings and try to find pain points. This can be your own problems, of what you can improve and how you can make it easier or better for yourself. Often this problem could be a common problem, faced by many others. If you are not sure about this way, join an NGO, where you can work on problems faced by many others. \r\n\t\r\n\t\r\n\tRead: This is self-explanatory, but yes, do read books, articles, blogs and papers written by the people you follow, and what the people you follow themselves read. This is a good way to increase your knowledge and also learn from the journeys of others. \r\n\t\r\n\t\r\n\tNetwork: To start you also need an opportunity, and a good network can go a long way in creating a good opportunity. This also helps you to learn about people, talk to them and possibly get guidance from them. \r\n\t\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat advice do you have for other prospective students who want to apply for the scholarship? \r\n\r\nMy advice for prospective students who want to apply for scholarships is three-fold: \r\n\r\n\r\n\t\r\n\tBelieve that you can make it work: The first step is not to get afraid of the task, or the fact that the competition is so tough, but to believe in yourself, and then start doing. Take small steps and do whatever you can to give it your best shot. \r\n\t\r\n\t\r\n\tTime it: Don’t keep waiting on it. Start at the earliest possible moment and then try to have submitted well before the deadline. \r\n\t\r\n\t\r\n\tGet essays reviewed: Get your essays reviewed by family members or mentors. They could have some great advice as they come with a different perspective. \r\n\t\r\n\r\n\r\nWishing everyone all the very best for their scholarship applications!