Software engineering student Vikram Subramanian has received a 2023 Jessie W. H. Zou Memorial Award. Established by Computer Science Professor Ming Li in honour of his late wife Jessie Wenhui Zou, the $1,000 award is conferred annually to outstanding undergraduate students in the Faculty of Mathematics with the aim of recognizing and celebrating their research accomplishments.
Growing up in Singapore, Vikram knew he wanted to study software engineering before he had even reached high school. He had “a fantastic computer science teacher, who went above and beyond and really sparked my interest.” In high school, as a member of the robotics club, he helped build several RC drones, and coded drone microcontrollers.
When considering higher education, Vikram knew that he wanted his university education to include similar opportunities for practical learning and development. “The co-op program and the fact that it was in the middle of a fantastic tech circle means that the choice to go to Waterloo was a no-brainer in the end,” he says.
Vikram’s experience at Waterloo has been “a fantastic one,” he says. “It has been formative as well: I am a different person both technically and personally” than when he began.
Vikram has been working on research projects for the past four years, on top of his regular coursework. He has been involved in three major projects: SE Garage, a curated archive for software engineering tools that makes finding and downloading tools from past research easier; Apply+, a tool that helps software patch management; and a collaborative project to help understand the first commits of developers in open-source projects.
As a result of his work on these research projects, Vikram has two published full papers with two others ready as drafts. One of these papers, “An empirical study of the first contributions of developers to open-source projects on GitHub,” won first place at the ACM student research competition at ICSE 2020. And last year, he received an honourable mention in the Computing Research Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards.
“Vikram is an outstanding researcher in our field,” says his nominator, Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Mei Nagappan. “He is a smart and insightful researcher and is just getting started.”
Vikram is continuing to conduct research with Professor Nagappan, now as a Master’s of Computer Science student.
“I’d like to thank Professor Mei for taking the time out to be not just a supervisor but also a mentor for the last few years and guiding me through my university and research journey,” Vikram said. “I feel incredibly honoured and proud to win this award.”