Saru Kalva exemplifies what it means to be a multidisciplinary student.
When Kalva is not busy solving complex mathematical word problems with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the sophomore Computer Science major can be found combining her major with her minor in Philosophy to answer multifaceted questions about humanity.
Kalva credits Honors 110 Principles of Research and Inquiry for piquing her interest in academia. After her first semester of college, Kalva enrolled in the Honors College’s Multidisciplinary Seminar (now Honors 360/361) to conduct research on how philosophers’ and computer scientists’ discussions on artificial intelligence can inform our understanding of the human mind. She continued this research during the summer and fall semesters, showcasing how disciplines across the academic spectrum can advise the same issue.
Kalva explains that computer science and philosophy are not as different as some may assume.
“I’m interested in logic, and [both] philosophy and [computer science] use logic for rhetoric or logic for writing code,” said Kalva.
While the Multidisciplinary Seminar has impacted much of her Mason experience so far, Kalva has worked alongside engineering professors to learn more about research in robotics. After being more involved with the intricacies of her major, Kalva was invited to sit in on a graduate robotics seminar this semester.
“[In the seminar], graduate students are presenting a paper, and we talk about it,” explained Kalva, stating that even though she is experienced in her major, she still has moments when she does not fully understand topics.
Kalva gained the courage to ask questions in the graduate seminar by taking the Multidisciplinary Seminar, which encourages an inquisitive atmosphere.
“You have to know what you don’t know,” said Kalva, emphasizing that it takes work to not be dismissive when it comes to misunderstanding someone’s discipline.
Kalva hopes to bring some of the robotics papers from the graduate seminar to life by implementing the code on her own.
Although Kalva is only in her second year at Mason, she is already looking to the future. Her time in the Multidisciplinary Seminar made her realize that she wants to continue pursuing academia. Kalva appreciates that courses like the seminar exists because they allow students to deeply explore their interests at their own pace.
“[The course] helped me find a question that I [want] to research later,” said Kalva, who is considering graduate school or enrolling in the accelerated master’s program for Computer Science. One of the required courses for her major, CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional, also sparked her interest in pursuing patent law.
“There’s some nuance to it [in] how you determine what someone owns,” said Kalva. “Ethics is becoming a very important thing in computer science today. […] In patent law, there’s a need for people with technical backgrounds.”
The most impactful lessons Kalva has learned so far at Mason are twofold: the importance of time management and having a healthy work-life balance. She also aims to keep learning long after she graduates.
“I [don’t want] to stop learning after college,” said Kalva. “[I want to] still be able to try out different things and learn about interesting topics.”
By Zaria Talley