Garima Bajwa, PhD
Dr. Garima Bajwa holds a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo and a doctorate in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of North Texas (UNT), in addition to her undergraduate degree from the Mody Institute of Technology and Science.
While at UNT, she received the award for Outstanding Doctoral Student, was a finalist in the national Three-Minute Thesis competition, and was also in the top eight for the UNT/Sherman Barsanti Inspiration Award. She is also a winner of the ACM-Women Travel Award. Her volunteer work includes serving as an officer for World Echoes and as a teaching mentor. In the following interview, Dr. Bajwa spoke to Capitol about her research interests, teaching vocation, and what she sees as the essential attributes for engineering success.
How did you become interested in engineering and technology?
My parents are both professors - my father in animal breeding and genetics, and my mother in food science and technology. Growing up in an academic environment, I became very interested in science. Then my brother took up engineering and was soon building telecommunications systems and dealing with networks. That inspired me to go into the field as well.
What are your primary research interests?
My PhD was in computational neuroscience, and I became really interested in brain-computer interfaces – how we can control things around us using our brains. I’m also interested in data science – how we can unravel patterns in seemingly chaotic data, which enables us to predict human behavior and build better products. These fields involve a variety of research areas: data analysis, signal processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
As a teacher, what do you find most rewarding?
I’m thrilled when my students first come to class with no clue about the subject, and then leave feeling that they get it – that moment when they understand how they can physically relate what they’re learning in class to their actual environment. It’s not just a concept for them; they can relate what I’m trying to teach them to what they can see and feel.
What do you see as the essential attributes for success as an engineer?
First, you have to get your fundamentals right. You should be able to connect what you’re doing in class to the real world. You also should have critical thinking skills. That’s crucial. Some engineers think “well, I’ll just build this or modify that”, but it’s actually important to go beyond that and ask why we need it and what is it going to improve. How does it impact the environment around us?
What do you enjoy the most about Capitol?
I have the freedom to do what I want as a professor. That’s something I love about Capitol. And, everyone is very warm, friendly and helpful.
What are some of your interests outside of teaching and research?
I used to do a lot of athletics, and I’m trying to catch up on that now. In my free time, I love to dig deep into things outside of research that grab my attention. I also travel frequently with friends, usually hiking and exploring nature.