CS Grad Spotlight: Dilan Nair

Nair plans to continue improving people’s quality of life and ability to connect as a software engineer with Apple

Dilan Nair enjoys developing software that makes people's lives easier.

Dilan NairAs a second-year student, Nair launched Paper, a course planning web application. Formerly called Plan Northwestern, the open-source, online tool Nair has continued refining allows students to search for and drag-and-drop courses into a four-year interface organized by academic quarter. The plan can then be saved and shared via a URL, which updates as the plan is modified.

Recently named among 12 ‘outstanding CS seniors,’ Nair served as a peer mentor for 10 quarters and co-directed the 2023-24 CS Mentorship Program, which aims to help computer science students cultivate a support network while they explore career pathways, gain confidence in their individual skillset, and develop strategies to achieve career objectives.

Nair was also an enthusiastic member of the WildHacks student leadership team. As director of WildHacks website development in 2023, Nair built a member management platform that included a project submission and editor dashboard. Nair took on the director role for WildHacks 2024, overseeing all aspects of the event. Held April 5 - 7, approximately 300 participants from 14 universities dedicated the weekend to building functional and compelling software.

Nair was also the 2024 tech director of Mayfest Productions, the student organization that plans and produces Dillo Day, the nation's largest student-run music festival.

Nair graduates in June with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the McCormick School of Engineering. We asked him about his experience at Northwestern, opportunities for impactful collaborations, and his advice for current students.

Why did you decide to pursue the CS major at McCormick?

With a bunch of fun computer science experience coming into college, I always knew that computer science was the path I wanted to take. The engineering focus intrigued me as useful knowledge that could supplement my computer science education, so I chose to go the McCormick route.

How did the McCormick curriculum help build a balanced, whole-brain ecosystem around your studies?

I really liked how the McCormick curriculum provided me with general science knowledge with an engineering focus, since it felt a lot more practical than just learning about theoretical concepts. This complemented my computer science education perfectly since all of it is practical.

What are some examples of collaborative or interdisciplinary experiences at Northwestern that were impactful to your education and research?

While I chose not to study anything outside of computer science, the opportunity to collaborate with a bunch of like-minded people was really great. I enjoy learning about other perspectives outside of my own because that helps us develop quality projects.

What skills or knowledge did you learn in the undergraduate program that you think will stay with you for a lifetime?

The undergraduate program allowed me to gain collaboration and leadership skills that I could not have learned anywhere else. The community and opportunity to easily find people with similar interests and passions was really helpful in learning how others think and how development works in a team setting.

What's next? What are your short- and long-term plans/goals in terms of graduate studies and/or your career path?

I am continuing with software engineering with a job at Apple.

What advice do you have for current Northwestern CS students?

To be successful and have a good time with computer science, it’s not about the technical skills you already have. Rather, it's the motivation and desire to build cool stuff. Being motivated gets you a long way in building quality technical skills to create cool software projects.

McCormick News Article