Nov 13, 2014 | Atlanta, GA
Nidhi Koshy, ISyE undergraduate student, has a diverse background and a strong affinity to public service, especially with One Voice Atlanta, where she serves as the Vice President of External Affairs. Born in India, raised in Japan and now pursuing her IE degree at ISyE, Koshy has a worldwide mindset and is excited to use her IE degree to her advantage when she graduates in 2016.
How has your multicultural experience shaped you?
My multicultural experience makes me eager to explore other cultures. I've traveled to about ten different countries in Asia, North America, the Middle East, and Europe, but I'm nowhere near satisfied!
The best part about visiting new cities and countries is the food. I absolutely love trying the local cuisine! In fact, the food trucks that come to Tech are exciting because you can try different ethnic food. They may not be truly authentic, but it's definitely a nice break from fast food and anything I can cook.
Most importantly, however, I think my multicultural experience helps me to connect with people of all cultural backgrounds. I am eager to learn from other people's customs and beliefs.
Why did you choose to enroll and participate in the Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering’s IE undergraduate program? What is your concentration?
As I was researching different universities and exploring various areas of study in my junior year of high school, I initially thought that I wanted to study business. My dad and others advised me to get an engineering degree and then pursue an MBA, so I began looking into getting a bachelor's degree in engineering. It was then that I found out about industrial engineering, and it seemed to be a perfect fit for me!
After deciding to major in IE, choosing to come to Tech was an easy choice. After all, what better place to study industrial engineering than the school with the best industrial engineering program in the nation?
I couldn't be happier to have chosen to study IE at the Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering. I absolutely love what I study, and this school has challenged me in amazing ways!
My concentration is in supply chain engineering, but I'm still interested in exploring the other concentrations offered here.
What aspects of the program do you find to be the most beneficial?
Thanks to ISyE, I think studying queues are exciting and solving problems using linear and integer programs extremely rewarding!
One thing that I really appreciate about the ISyE program is that the undergraduate curriculum is laid out really well. The sequence of classes flows in a way so that you're always equipped with the tools and skills to take the subsequent class. I also like how we take more computer science classes than other engineering majors -- programming is such a useful skill! The curriculum also offered me the flexibility to minor in Japanese without taking any extra classes.
You are a scholar and an activist. Why is public service in general important to you?
That's a great question. I could talk for hours on this subject, but I'll try to explain my views in a couple of minutes.
The surface level answer is that, as Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." As educated people, I believe we have the responsibility to use our education not only to benefit ourselves but also to "triumph over evil."
The underlying principles that drives this philosophy is that I believe that God created all of us in His image to love Him and love others. We can love others by respecting them, and injustice occurs when we do not do this. This causes people to believe lies about themselves, others, and God instead of living out who they were truly created to be and reaching their potential.
The good news is that we can partner with God to heal the brokenness in the world, and that's why I think public service is important!
Tell us a little about your involvement in One Voice Atlanta. What inspired you to devote your time to this particular project? What are your projects?
At my high school, Christian Academy in Japan, the focus of our senior year was completing the Senior Comprehensives project. Each student had to research the causes, effects, and possible solutions to a global issue that they were passionate about. I chose to study women's rights in the Middle East, and through that journey, I learned about countless atrocities that women and children are subject to around the world. The book Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn was a crucial part of this journey.
I knew that I wanted to continue being a part of empowering women at college, and while researching student organizations at Georgia Tech the summer before my first semester here, I found One Voice Atlanta. Since then, I have become extremely passionate about freeing women and children trapped in the sex industry.
Since my sophomore year here, I have been serving as the Vice President of External Affairs. My role is to serve as a liaison between Georgia Tech students and our non-profit partner organizations working on the front lines of this issue. Last year I realized that there was a gap between students who were passionate about ending sex trafficking but didn't know where to begin or wanted to go beyond college fundraisers and awareness events, and non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers for their day-to-day operations. To fill this gap I decided to establish a volunteer program with Wellspring Living. The program was successful last year, and my committee and I have been working hard to expand this program this semester.
You have said that after graduating you want to work to end sex trafficking. What do you see yourself doing?
I know that I want to apply my industrial engineering skills to help end sex trafficking, but I'm still not sure how that will play out. However, I do have two examples I like to give people to help them understand how this is possible.
Freeset is a fair trade business based in Kolkata, India that employees women who are able to leave the sex industry. Freeset produces bags and shirts, and these women are a part of all aspects of the manufacturing process. It's interesting because the organization chooses not to be efficient in some areas so that they can employ more women. It's almost like reverse industrial engineering, but I love the idea of using business to free women from sexual slavery!
Another example I like to give is of Palantir Technologies. Palantir specializes in discovering and analyzing data through powerful software which their Philanthropic Engineering Team uses “to address the problem [of human trafficking] in two ways: to respond to victims’ needs in real time, and to analyze the aggregated incident data to understand the reach of trafficking networks.”
How has Georgia Tech helped support you in your public service endeavor?
Georgia Tech has opened my eyes to non-traditional ways of fighting for social justice; it has shown me how technology and engineering can be used for social good.
Tell us more about yourself and especially something few people know about you.
I love to read. In fact, I'm really looking forward to winter break so that I can curl up with a couple of good books.
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Industrial and Systems Engineering