Meet Supriya Ketkar, Doctoral Candidate in Electrical Engineering
June 22, 2012

Supriya Ketkar, an international student from India, is a doctoral candidate in the Electrical Engineering department at the University of South Florida. Miles away from home, Supriya’s experiences at USF and in Tampa Bay have given her much to learn from.

Pursuing a PhD at USF since fall 2006, Supriya intends to graduate this fall. “Coming into the PhD program was no rosy picture, there were highs and lows like anywhere else,” she says. Nonetheless, she believes it’s a learning process. Working with new and advanced technologies, she says her peers and seniors were more friends than colleagues and guided her along the way.

Opting to come to USF after meeting with a USF professor in India, Supriya says her decision hasn’t failed her. “It’s like I came from one research place to another…with better facilities,” she says comparing Tampa to her hometown Pune in Maharashtra. She is quick to point out that without doubt Tampa’s warm climate was her first draw. Fully aware that the weather may seem like a trivial factor in choosing a university, she emphasizes that as a researcher this is one of the most important things to consider. Researchers work at all times of day, conducting experiments, coming back at odd hours to check results – the weather in the Sunshine State clearly gives them one less obstacle to cross. “Plus, the city I’m from is very safe. I’m used to spending time in the lab.” USF too has been a safe haven for her to carry on her work.

Supriya makes a clear distinction between academic research in the U.S. and in India. She says that though India could be on the frontlines of student research, the closed view that the Indian academic system professes prevents such progress. She explains that in India students only conduct and publish research findings to compete within the domestic research community and to replicate already established international research. In the United States however, she says findings are published for a worldwide research community. “Every student here tries to create application driven pioneering work, but in India most of the work is theory dominant.”

As an international student, Supriya doesn’t make light of the support she’s received from the university. “International Services has been very friendly since I first came here. Marcia Taylor and all her staff have always had my back and been ready to help out with anything I need.”

But every international student faces culture shock. Supriya says this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just new and different. Overall, Supriya says her experience as a USF Bull has been worth every minute. “There’s just so much energy around, I haven’t seen this kind of activity at any other university I’ve visited. It’s not just the weather that’s warm; it’s the people as well.”