Sharmi Shah: Pursuing Robotics to Make the World a Better Place

Sharmi Shah, a student at the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) at MIT, was initially drawn to the field by a photo of students in colorful hardhats running across Killian Court. However, it was her desire to make a positive impact on the world that ultimately inspired her to pursue studies in mechanical engineering and focus on robotics.

After considering various majors, including pre-medicine and computer science, Shah decided to pursue MechE’s 2-A/6 program. This program allows students to combine core mechanical engineering courses with courses in computer science and electrical engineering. Shah was particularly attracted to the flexibility and customization offered by this program.

As a 2-A/6 major, Shah had the opportunity to work on a robotic system named PEARL, which is used for harvesting solar energy to recharge autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and connect to satellite constellations for data transmission. Inspired by this experience, she took more robotics classes and gained practical skills in controls, mechanical design, software, optimization techniques, perception, planning, and nonlinear controls.

Currently a graduate student at MIT, Shah is working in Professor Sangbae Kim’s Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory. Her research focuses on tactile sensing, a field she began exploring during her senior project. Shah embraces the uncertainty of her career path and is open to new opportunities and learning experiences that may arise.

Shah values the supportive community she has found in MechE and around campus. She is also an active member of Mirchi, MIT’s nationally-ranked Bollywood fusion dance team. Additionally, she frequently utilizes the campus makerspaces and the MechE lounge for collaboration and socializing.

For Shah, returning to MIT for her graduate studies is an exciting prospect that allows her to continue learning and exploring new avenues in robotics. She is grateful for the friendships she has made and the support of her family throughout her educational journey.

– Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT