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My Summer at Vantage 

Dr. Karthik Raman, IIT Madras

Summers at IIT Madras are a good time to pick up a new direction, catch up on all the research papers downloaded during the previous semester and hopefully, take a short vacation. I chose to spend a few weeks at Vantage this summer and it was quite worthwhile. I have known Rukmini and Vikram since Sep 2013, when Rukmini gave a seminar in our department. Since then, Rukmini’s been regularly giving a few lectures in my courses at IITM, presenting the students with an industry perspective on modelling and simulation. This year, we talked about me returning the favour, with some lectures, but perhaps more importantly, directly collaborating on certain aspects of modelling and parameter estimation.
AT IIT Madras, we have an ongoing Initiative for Biological Systems Engineering, where we’re trying to tap into the strong quantitative expertise of engineers at IIT Madras to work on a range of biological problems. Turns out, Vantage has done that quite well, with multiple recruits from IIT Madras, spanning Aerospace, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering! I have always been on the lookout for an opportunity to apply some of the modelling techniques often confined research papers and the academia, to relevant problems in the industry, and this summer seemed like the right time to do it at Vantage. I worked mostly on parameter estimation algorithms and a critical look at the modelling process
This summer was also an expansion phase for Vantage, as I saw their employee strength go up by 25%. Vantage has an excellent atmosphere, with no hierarchy and very passionate individuals. Vantage has a nice blend of engineers and biologists, and I enjoyed lecturing them on various aspects of systems biology. The biologist–engineer debates were equally fun, as folks started taking sides arguing against the arbitrariness of biological nomenclature vs. programming conventions!
I hope Vantage and IITM can foster a fruitful collaboration over the coming years, through an exchange of ideas and students. I thank all the folks at Vantage for the enjoyable experience and look forward to some more productive interactions over the coming months.

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