Graduate Student Spotlight: Harleen Sandhu

Harleen Sandhu (MSCE 2015) is a fourth year Ph.D. student with a concentration in Computing and Systems. While earning her master’s, she worked closely with Dr. Abhinav Gupta, who now serves as her advisor. She is studying artificial intelligence approaches for the condition monitoring of nuclear safety systems. Sandhu grew up in Jamshedpur, India.

What influenced you to go into engineering?

Harleen Sandhu: My interest in engineering started very young. My uncle Gurdas Sandhu was the first engineer in our family, and I loved hearing about his projects. He graduated with a Ph.D. from CCEE, and that exposed me to the department’s research capabilities. My father worked as a real estate construction manager, and I learned by looking at his structural drawings for residential buildings.

What problem(s) are you trying to solve? Why were NC State and CCEE a good fit for you?

HS: I am trying to build a framework to continually monitor the health and safety conditions of nuclear safety equipment-piping systems at nuclear reactor plants using artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning approaches. My research explores how automated condition monitoring of nuclear safety systems can be conducted in real-time to alert the operators of any breakdown in the system.

CCEE is one of the few departments in the U.S. that offers a focus in Computing and Systems. This was a game changer for me since I wanted to work on AI technologies within civil engineering applications. In addition to CCEE, NC State also has top computer science and nuclear engineering departments and my research involves collaborations with these departments. CCEE also has great faculty, including my advisor, Dr. Gupta.

Where did your passion for this particular focus come from?

HS: Since my childhood, I have been fascinated by computers and programming. I started studying Java and C++ in middle and high school. My interest grew as I kept achieving better results and understanding of coding languages. Pursuing a Ph.D. was my chance to combine my passion for building safe, reliable structures and work with state-of-the-art programming languages to create research-specific algorithms.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

HS: In five years, I hope to have a tenure-track faculty position at a university with research capability in structural, construction and artificial intelligence applications.