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Life as a CSE Grad Student

Hear about the ins and outs of graduate study from current and recent students in CSE’s programs.

First year PhD student Joan Nwatu hopes to use artificial intelligence to solve problems in accessibility. She’s building connections in the U-M CSE community and in the Michigan AI Lab, where her specific interests are in the intersection of computer vision and natural language processing.

Here it’s different. Instead of competing against each other, you’re competing against yourself and you have people around to help you.

PhD candidate Sarah Jabbour began her education in computer science  after taking EECS 183 in her third year of undergraduate studies. Now, she participates in the Michigan AI Lab as a PhD candidate and works to develop machine learning models that can map chest x-rays to diseases with the ultimate goal of augmenting clinical care.

I like being a PhD student because you form a bond with your research topic. You get to go really deep into the weeds on a topic that’s really exciting to contribute to and have your name on it.

PhD candidate Mohamed El Banani has always been interested in questions about perception and intelligence, which has led him to the field of computer vision and machine learning to build models that can understand images and video. Interviewed in his fifth year of study, he has advice for prospective students on how to pursue your interests and find your path.

You’re going to be spending five years working with a professor and their lab. So figuring out the personality fit and how you work and how the faculty advisor works is very important. This can be a determining factor in your PhD success and in your happiness throughout the PhD more generally.

Student life vlogs

Jule Schatz and Won Park, two PhD candidates in CSE, produced a series of vlogs between 2019 and 2021 chronicling the many aspects of their lives as researchers and students. Check out the full playlists below for a practical look at staying organized, going to research conferences, life in Ann Arbor, and tackling the daily grind of finishing a research project.