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Imagine our protagonist fighting a 3D holographic projection of the villain – who disintegrates into small pixels at the touch of the hero’s sword, only to reappear on some other area of the stage. Or, imagine seeing the inner turmoil of a schizophrenic character through their eyes. These are the kind of creative experiences I hope to portray live on stage in reality. I dream of designing the next generation of interface technology for the “theatre of the future.” During a literature class in school, I came across Augusto Boal’s philosophy of the ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’. After having realised the limitations of bourgeois theatrics to motivate its audience, Boal came up with ‘Forum Theatre’ where the audience plays an active role in deciding the flow of the performance, thus becoming ‘Spect-actors’. In this manner he was able to provide the impetus for change from within the target group, he was able to portray the collective struggles of minorities, remobilise humanity and help the traumatized experience a catharsis, all through art. I thought this was a phenomenal way to drive change, and the concept has stayed with me ever since, drawing me into the world of theatrics. Technology has still found only limited use in stage productions partly because of the lack of relevant and bespoke technology that is simultaneously viable, feasible, economical, and sustainable. Additionally, writers and directors have not yet recognized the full potential of immersive technology, in that they haven’t entirely figured out how or where to implement the advanced elements in their narratives. All great stories begin with people, people are at the core of theatrics, and audiences no longer want to passively consume performances. They want to interact and curate their own adventure, giving it shape and direction, a notion reflected by Boal’s philosophy. This is where I come in. I believe that the possibilities associated with interactive augmented reality, projection, and holographic technology have not been explored to their full potential. I want to innovate in these areas and design technology that encourages audience participation, while also providing a new tool for enhanced narratives, such as gesture based sets or costume changes, holographic sets, characters, and props. During my time at BITS Pilani, I strove to improve and perfect my technical, analytical, and logical skills in the realm of coding and engineering through classroom assignments, competitions and internships. As a personal project, I created an iOS mobile application – CampusXP. What initially started as a comprehensive and customisable newsfeed application eventually became a unified platform for all student related activities, along with a timetable and attendance advisor, and a test and assignment manager. Inspired by Tom and David Kelley’s design ideology, I tried to implement the human-centered approach towards designing the application. Currently, the CampusXP application is helping over 1000 BITSians. At BITS, I actively participated in various extracurricular activities that go beyond the boundaries of my academics. As a member of the Corroboration and Review Committee, my team and I drafted an improved constitution for our University. As the BITS Girls Cricket Team Captain, I led my team through an undefeated year of tournaments. I have co-founded and chaired the BITSMUN society and was an integral part of the college debate team. My favourite activity at BITS Pilani, was performing with Paribhasha, the college theatre club. As a member of the club I was not just a performer, but also a writer, director, stagehand, prop-maker, and sound & lights technician. One of my proudest achievements as the Paribhasha President was starting an inter-University event called World Theatre Day, taking inspiration from the International Theatre Institute. We played host to 6 Universities over the duration of the festival. Where we saw stage plays, street plays as well as a unique three-act play where all the Universities performed collaboratively. During my stay in Dubai I was a part of over 16 plays in one capacity or another, but the one production that I am particularly proud of was titled “Is it Enough?” It was the first time that a live musical was performed during an interuniversity event. For this play, we also worked with our in-house resources to modify the stage lights to work on verbal cues, so that the lights would change to the beat of a song. Additionally, as an Infrastructure intern at Johnson Controls in Dubai, I designed and deployed an intranet portal using SharePoint. This helped improve employee collaboration within the organization, better connecting the Middle Eastern and African sectors. I utilized concepts I had previously learnt in my Computer Networks course while improving my abilities as a UI designer. Through my humanities project on the Syrian refugee crisis, I was able to understand the subtleties of the situation, the impact of international aid, especially from within the UAE, and the motivations for the same. I was able to interview Dalal Faisal Alsharhan, Senior External Relations Associate at UNHCR UAE, to understand the functions of UNHCR and UAE’s future plans in the refugee realm. This project helped me develop skills like survey design, quantitative interviews, and data interpretation and representation. It also inspired the aforementioned musical. As an individual who has been a part of several multicultural teams through college and during my internships, I learnt that communication and an open mind are the key to harmonious and successful collaborations. Being a good listener helps in understanding and empathising with one’s team, which leads to better results. At ETC, my aim would be to master the nuances of designing technology for stage while also giving shape to my entrepreneurial goals. I am very excited to be a part of the culture enabled by CMU and the city of Pittsburgh. Aside from the assigned curriculum, I would like to dedicate time to gain hands on experience at the IDeATe Labs and the DevLab Physical Prototyping Lab. At CMU, I am looking to make lifelong collaborators and friends with diverse outlooks but similar visions. I look forward to interacting with Professor Scott Stevens for his experience with HCI and emerging technology, and Professor Brenda Bakker Harger for her work with live interactive theatre. I am very interested in your student defined semester. I also plan to take full advantage of the ample internship opportunities facilitated by CMU to test the methods I learn at the university. I plan to be an active participant in the intramurals and theatre activities open to students.I think CMU is the perfect fit for me for the same reasons that I am a perfect fit for it – we are both visionaries, with diverse and versatile profiles, and cannot be pinned down as being more of something than the other. With the skills and mindset I develop at CMU, I hope to move into the theatre industry, working at places such as 59 Productions, Pervasive Media Studios, or 3-Legged Dog. Eventually, I dream of building my own theatre production house, where we seamlessly blend live performances and interactive technology.

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