College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

James Rodgers’ first step after transferring? Hands-on research

James Rodgers
James Rodgers

Once James Rodgers decided to transfer to Iowa State to major in software engineering, he knew one thing he wanted to find right away: research experience in machine learning and AI.

I joined the IINSPIRE-LSAMP program the minute I decided to transfer to from DMACC to Iowa State because I knew IINSPIRE-LSAMP was designed to connect me with professors doing cutting-edge research in computing, like machine learning. And I feel it’s critical to get real-life engineering experience every chance I can.

Last summer, before I even started taking classes at Iowa State, I got experience working with Anwesha Sarkar, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, on using machine learning to predict the angle of view between two images of the same object, taken from different angles. My work is part of a larger project involving protein sequencing.

I certainly didn’t think that coming right from DMACC that I would be able to do research in such an awesome lab, and it’s an extremely valuable opportunity. The things I’m learning are not things that I can just learn in class.

Plus, when you join a research project, you’re joining a team. And that support from Dr. Sarkar and the rest of her lab group really helped me quickly feel like a part of Iowa State.

I also appreciate the support I got from the IINSPIRE-LSAMP program, which itself gave a lot of perspective on how to do research, ethics, and what it’s like to be a part of the research community.

Beyond getting practical experience, doing hands-on research gives you more confidence about being able to pick up new tools and techniques – confidence in learning how to learn in software engineering.

I would say everyone who can do research should do research, at least a little bit – especially transfer students.”

Interested in getting undergraduate research experience at Iowa State? Check out options for getting hands-on learning in the lab here.