Student Spotlight: Sachin Mehta: NASA and Beyond

Mar 10, 2016 | Atlanta, GA

Sachin Mehta is keeping busy. He has just started an out-of-this-world internship with NASA, is a graduate student at Georgia Tech earning his professional masters in applied systems engineering (PMASE 2017), and is founding his own company, DynamiCoupons.

Mehta has taken a somewhat circuitous route to get to ISyE: He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada in electrical engineering, with an emphasis on biomedical engineering.

He found his way to the PMASE program at Tech because, he explains, “I was always fascinated by the large-scale complex systems that are all around us and wanted to learn more about what it takes to weave together so many moving parts. Not only do you have to engage in technical engineering design but you must also take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and consider all the other aspects like manufacturing, operations, human factors, business—and the inherent uncertainty of it all.” After doing research on his various options for graduate school, he says he “quickly came to select Georgia Tech because it fit all my criteria” -- world-renowned faculty, a fully online degree program, and the fact that the Stewart School for Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISyE) is consistently ranked No. 1 in its field.

As for pursuing an internship with NASA, Mehta notes, “I have a grounding in electronic and electrical systems but have always been curious about other arenas, so I’m thrilled to be confronting not just one problem space at NASA, but several altogether.” He adds, “It all goes back to the leaps and bounds [NASA’s] been making for decades and answering the question of ‘What else is out there?’  

“Really we’re just a speck in the known universe; there’s so much more out there that has yet to be explored, so being able to collaborate with the visionaries here at Langley to help in answering those questions is a humbling experience. Fortunately, I’ve been afforded an opportunity to work directly in the two areas that pique my interest – system architecting and modeling and simulation (MODSIM).”

System architecting and MODSIM are fields of study experiencing rapid growth.

Mehta says, “The essence of architecting is bringing order out of chaos: unifying components, their relationships, and the principles governing their design into an organized manner. It’s both an art and a science because you can end up with countless alternative solutions to the same problem, and you’re left with the mission of balancing all the moving parts in order to find a sweet spot.

“MODSIM is another cornerstone of engineering because it can be applied across the board – to experimentation, testing, training, risk analysis, and even cost estimation. One good example of how useful it can be is when you consider the fact that it’s not practical to fly into space or travel 300 days to Mars just to test a new design or piece of equipment, so simulation modeling is the next best thing.”

MODSIM has applications beyond space exploration and space travel, involving large-scale projects in construction, defense, manufacturing, and medicine.

Mehta will specifically be working in the Systems Engineering and Engineering Methods branch at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. While there, he will be “tasked with conceiving, architecting, maturing, and integrating a model based systems engineering infrastructure that will facilitate both ongoing and future space exploration missions, like the journey to Mars.” 

When asked how IE will play a role in his internship, Mehta has a ready answer: “We’ve already covered a lot of material in our first few classes like system architecting, robust design, human systems integration, engineering economics, and probabilistic methods. I really love how the focus of Tech’s coursework is comprehensive in nature, covering end-to-end phases of the product lifecycle.” His next couple of PMASE classes, which cover advanced system modeling and simulation, will have direct applicability to his NASA internship across multiple NASA projects.

Conversely, Mehta’s internship will also expand his IE skills. He explains, “If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that there’s always room to grow. The icing on the cake for me is that I get to collaborate with engineers who work day-in and day-out in my precise field of study – so I fully expect to flourish not only as a systems engineer, but also as a person.”

As if Mehta doesn’t have enough to keep him busy as a full-time PMASE student and NASA intern, he has also become an entrepreneur, starting his own web-based company called DynamiCoupons. Unlike such Internet coupon companies as Groupon and LivingSocial, Mehta says that DynamiCoupons – which will launch in mid to late 2016 – focuses on the mom-and-pop enterprises that make up the backbone of American business, putting “money and marketing power” back into their pockets.

He explains that the site will work “by offering merchants and businesses the DIY ability to create their own deals, offers, ads, coupons, and promotions and post them in real time – without breaking the bank. The searchable database is updated constantly using an exclusive interconnected network. This provides customers the opportunity to find the things they want most by keyword, type of product or service, city, and zip code – all free of charge. I even integrated geo-location capabilities via Google Maps to the site so anyone can search for nearby deals on their cell phone, tablet, or mobile device.”

The site for DynamiCoupons has largely been developed, so the next step for Mehta is getting the word out about his enterprise. He is confident in the venture’s potential success: “I really believe that businesses and customers alike will be impressed when they start using our platform – and then the real growth potential begins.”

This promises to be a challenging venture. In addition, the NASA internship lasts six months, during which time his full-time school work on his PMASE degree will continue. “I know it won’t be easy,” acknowledges Mehta – but then he adds, “When has anything worthwhile ever been easy?”

About the Professional Master’s in Applied Systems Engineering

Georgia Tech's College of Engineering, the division of Professional Education, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute collaboratively designed the Professional Master's in Applied Systems Engineering (PMASE) program for experienced professionals interested in building and expanding their systems engineering expertise. The systems engineering master's program offers a practical, hands-on approach to learning how to successfully integrate systems engineering processes to gain a competitive advantage in any industry.

This master's in systems engineering will help students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully compete in the global market. Students gain real-world experience by collaborating in a team environment. They will learn how to think strategically to determine project plans and identify areas of risks.

ISyE Professor Emeritus Leon McGinnis teaches in the PMASE program.

For more information on the program, click here.

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Shelley Wunder-Smith

Writer/Editor

Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering

404.385.4745