My name is Anuj Thakkar, and I’m a Benjamin N. Duke Full Merit Scholar at Duke University. At Duke, I’m studying Mechanical Engineering alongside the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate. As of August 2018, my active projects include EV360: Constructing an Electric Monowheel, AirCloud: A Device for Eliminating Ambient Air Pollution, E-Drones: A Promotional Video around Edible Chocolate Drones, and OptiML: Automated Retinal Imaging and Diagnostics amongst others. I’m an artist, an engineer, and a team-leader. Welcome to my E-Portfolio!
When I was a kid, technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality were just science fiction, and autonomous and electric cars seemed years away. However, despite their seeming like just dreams, the possibility of technologies like these to improve living conditions, to provide new experiences to humans, and to reduce the impact humans have on our environment only charged my interest in making an impact through technology innovation.
I lived in Rocky Mount, North Carolina until I was about eight years old, at which point I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. Throughout grade school, I sought to expand the breadth of my knowledge and experience across various fields. This pursuit led me engage in dozens of distinct, yet all extremely interesting, projects such as building a violin, running a literary magazine, launching a weather balloon, and organizing a statewide walk-a-thon for disaster relief.
When selecting colleges, the opportunities provided by Duke and the B.N. Scholarship played a significant role in my decision. Through the B.N. program, I would receive funding to work on projects with a community impact both domestically and abroad in addition to full tuition. Combined, these resources would support me as I sought to grow the depth of my knowledge and expand my impact in the community.
On campus, I have been highly involved in the Duke Smart Home, which integrates Internet of Things technologies into a living space in order to build a smarter, more sustainable living environment. With the support of the Duke Smart Home, the Pratt School of Engineering, and Duke Facilities, and the scholarship community, I’ve founded an LED Lighting Retrofit initiative currently being carried out that is projected to save the university millions of dollars in energy and maintenance annually.
In my time at Duke, I’ve had multiple opportunities to partner with California’s GRID Alternatives, to install solar panels in low-income neighborhoods, as well as the opportunity to develop relationships with energy startups in the region while planning Duke’s Energy Startup Demo Day. Additionally, the coursework and opportunities at Duke and in the Research Triangle Park area have allowed me to dive deeper into projects that involve art, machine learning, virtual reality, healthcare, and rapid-prototyping.
After Duke, I hope to dive deeper into technology projects with significant community impact. While my primary project management experience is in energy, I hope to continue to always expand my horizons and learn about how skills and activities outside my expertise are can complement the knowledge I have to improve the lives of those across the globe.