'Ready to Take on The World'

MSAI graduates reflect on their time in the program and how it's prepared them to work with artificial intelligence professionally.

Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) program recently celebrated its latest cohort of graduates. Before they received their diplomas, some of the graduates took a moment to reflect on what first appealed to them about MSAI, what they learned in the program, and how their experiences will prepare them to succeed professionally.

What first got you interested in MSAI? 

Pranav Pawar (MSAI 23): "This is a great environment at Northwestern. We have research, we have academics, and we have great industry connections." 

Akangkshya Pathak (MSAI '23): "I felt the need to get more technical expertise in this field, and I also wanted to use AI in a real-life scenario, which is why MSAI called out to me. It's a professional degree and more focus is given to how we can use our skills in industry. That's what made the decision for me."

Laura Machlab (MSAI '23): "There's a lot of opportunities for different types of research, we have access to all the research that's happening at Northwestern, and (the program) is really interested in expanding with AI into different fields. Those resources to expand your knowledge of how you can apply AI in the real world have been really interesting."

How did you benefit from the rest of your MSAI cohort? 

Machlab: "My cohort comes from a lot of different backgrounds. That brings a really interesting dynamic to the classroom. You have different perspectives on the projects that you're working on, and you're able to not only learn from the classes but also learn from your classmates."

Pawar: "The MSAI cohort is composed of a diverse set of people in experience, background, and culture. We have people who have worked for 13 years in industry and we also have people right out of college. That makes it unique because you bring this set of people together and it really brings out the best of the entire team."  

Your capstone project provided you with the opportunity to work as a team with students from Northwestern's MBAi Program — a joint-degree program offered between Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering. What did you learn from that experience?

Machlab: "Working with MBAi students, we learned a lot about talking to the user about what they're looking for and looking for outcomes with the user rather than just focusing on how we solve this specific problem. Broadening that view, that's a skill where you're looking at the bigger picture." 

How have you grown during your time in MSAI? 

Machlab: "The way that I think about approaching problems has changed. MSAI has really focused a lot on making sure that when you're applying AI to a problem, you're not just thinking about the technology but you're also thinking about the people it affects and the people you're building the technology for. That's really valuable."

Pathak: "This program emphasized industrial, practical experiences for the students. It prepared me personally to go out into industry, especially in these times with new technologies. This was a good experience, and I feel ready to take on the world." 

McCormick News Article