Student Profile: Nirav Kapadia
Posted: 01-Jan-99
M.S - Electrical Engineering, Purdue University, 1994

Ph.D – Computational Engineering, Purdue University, 1999

The name, “Purdue” was what first attracted Nirav Kapadia to consider applying as a master’s student in 1992. It had a nice ring to it. His parents, both professionals of their own making (his father is a chartered accountant and his mother is a physio-therapist), are strong believers in higher education and they encouraged their son to pursue further information about this, and other programs, abroad. The financially manageable application process led him to make contact, and ultimately the promise of a quality education in electrical and computer engineering convinced him to make the long-distance move from Bombay, India, to Purdue University. Although travel is not new to Mr. Kapadia, adjusting to the cultural nuances of America has been formidable. Luckily, his first roommate, an American, evolved into a good friend who first introduced and guided him in the ways of the States. The guidance he received was the guidance he soon offered new international students as they stepped onto the Purdue campus. He began to volunteer for the International Students and Scholars Office in 1992 and has been involved ever since.

Accessibility and quality-based education promises to keep Mr. Kapadia here. Nirav Kapadia has done what only a handful of students can do: choose to be directly hired by his alma mater upon graduation. His research degree has such strong long-term implications and relevance in his field that employers from various sectors showed interest in hiring him. Purdue won. Mr. Kapadia is the primary architect of the infrastructure behind the Purdue University Network-Computing Hubs, or PUNCH. PUNCH is a distributed network-computer program that provides geographically dispersed users with universal, web-based access to tools. Tools do not have to be written in any particular language and access to a source-code is not required. The PUNCH infrastructure is geographically dispersed, but this is transparent to users who can run tools wherever they reside.

PUNCH serves as the underlying distributed computing infrastructure for several collaborative efforts funded by the National Science Foundation. It is also the enabling infrastructure for a statewide Purdue University network-computing system currently being deployed. Students throughout Indiana will use this system to run tools on machines located at all Purdue campuses. Over the years, Mr. Kapadia has found PUNCH to be an extremely useful resource for students and collaborators and a highly flexible test-bed for network-computing research. During the past three-years, PUNCH users have logged approximately one million hits and performed over seventy thousand simulations.

Needless to say, Mr. Kapadia and the PUNCH design have been entered in the coveted Burton Entrepenurial Competition held every year out of the Krannert School of Management. This is a competition held for undergraduate and graduate students whose projects prove to have income generating potential and long-term investment strengths.

The mentorship of Professors’ Fortes and Lundstrom, from the Schools of Engineering, guided Mr. Kapadia’s success. “They made me feel welcome and wanted”. A bit of fate also helped, he claims. In India, the first two GRE exams were cancelled. He took the third one even though he could have waited. However, the fourth one was also cancelled. Had he not taken the third one when he had he would not have arrived at Purdue to meet and work with faculty to develop the program that has now captured national attention. PUNCH evolved at the “…right place at the right time”, when the world-wide web was just becoming popular. “Too many things to do and so little time!” Travel continues to fascinate Mr. Kapadia. Having visited many national parks in America, he is intent on trying to visit them all in the near future. Purdue is as accessible to these parks as Mr. Kapadia has been to Purdue since the university is situated near the middle of the country from which he can visit and return relatively easily; luckily for the Office of International Programs and luckily for Purdue. Or, is it fate that Mr. Nirav Kapadia is with us?

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