Changing Direction in Grad School

Ronnie-headshotArghya “Ronnie” Chatterjee, president of Rice University’s Computer Science Graduate Student Association (CS GSA), enthusiastically recommends his department to prospective grad students. “For one thing, you don’t have to choose your faculty advisor or research focus right away. Take COMP 590 once or twice and explore different areas. You aren’t forced into an area of study or a group that isn’t a good fit for you for the next few years.”

“I was one of the students who made a switch. My original faculty sponsor was studying an area that at the time seemed interesting to me, but I soon learned that it was not where I wanted to spend my next four or five years,” said Chatterjee. Eugene Ng, Associate Professor in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering and also a co-chair of the graduate committee in CS, helped Chatterjee identify potential outcomes.

“Looking around at the different projects going on in the department, I found one that felt right and talked with the researcher about the possibility of joining their group,” explained Chatterjee. “And Beth Rivera (CS Program Administrator for graduate students) was great about guiding me through the change process.”RonnieNightOffice

The CS department also offers a lot of flexibility, which Chatterjee appreciates. “I’m a night owl,” he grins. “I do my deepest thinking after lunch, and it helps that I have a lot of liberty to choose office hours that fit my preferences. The first thing I set up in my office was ambient lighting for my night hours.”

Chatterjee knows the CS graduate student program is not the best fit for every potential student, but as the largest academic department at Rice University, it offers a wide variety of options. “Whether you stay with your original area of study or change like I did, the Rice experience is pretty amazing. In fact, it is possibly the most amazing opportunity that Houston has to offer.”

For more information on the largest academic department at Rice University, visit the Computer Science Department web site: