National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Nikhil Garg

Nikhil Garg

Nikhil Garg

University of Texas at Austin
B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering, 2014
B.A. in Plan II Honors, 2014

NASA Academy Research Project:
Real-time, multi-modality, multiple cognitive state monitoring to improve aviation safety

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Beth Lewandowski, Dr. Tristan Hearn, and Angela Harrivel

Hometown: Houston, TX

Philosophy

The world benefits most when the best of mankind work together to solve its greatest challenges. That is the philosophy of NASA, and that is the philosophy by which I try to live. I believe that technology has the potential to transform our lives as much in the next century as it has in the last twenty, but also that it requires effective governance and management to fulfill its potential. Furthermore, I believe that each person must become an agent of change toward the society that one wants to see. I aspire to become such an agent for a future in which technology meets its every promise – in space exploration, medicine, and communication, for example.

Education

I am a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Plan II honors, a liberal arts program that emphasizes critical thinking and communication skills. My dual-degree allows me both to develop my technical skills and to learn about its surrounding context. My favorite classes to date have been Embedded Real-time Digital Signal Processing and Pathways to Civic Engagement, in which I learned about local non-profits and the principles of effective work in the public domain. Furthermore, for the past several years, I have researched in the Mobile and Pervasive Computing Group at UT, conducting research on mobile sensor networks. In particular, my research focuses on how nodes in such a network can combine to complete group tasks and communicate in an efficient manner over an unreliable, ad-hoc connection. Due to my overall performance, I have received several prestigious awards. Most recently, I was awarded the Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship. I plan to use my remaining two years at UT to continue pursuing my interests and searching for an issue about which I can be passionate for the rest of my life.

Interests

I most enjoy reading about the world around me, both through nonfiction books and by keeping up with the news. I particularly enjoy books that take subject matter from my classes and trace its history and development. For example, I recently read James Gleick’s “The Information.” In one overarching book, it connects what I have learned in modern physics, philosophy, computer architecture, and signal processing courses. Besides reading, I am active in the UT community through the IEEE Computer Society and HKN. I also enjoy camping, canoeing, and simply spending down-time with friends, talking about whatever may be on our minds.

Future

Some of the greatest challenges and opportunities in the coming century concern technological upheaval. These issues – cyber security and warfare, increasingly intelligent robotics, medical developments, and smarter energy grids, to name a few – will require careful policies that maximize the technologies’ benefits while managing their risks. Generating these policies requires both policy expertise and technological understanding. I aspire to influence this field as a policymaker and advisor. I hope to use my time as an intern at NASA to learn more about the policies leading the organization and about the technologies enabling it. After earning my undergraduate degrees, I hope to enter an interdisciplinary technology and policy graduate program to prepare me for a career in the field.