UA President wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

UA President wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

For Shruti Sharma ‘15, whose exploits include leading landmine-clearing initiatives in Venezuela and developing prosthetics, winning the Gates Cambridge Scholarship is an opportunity to continue her pursuit of improving the lives of those with disabilities through advancements in materials science and medical devices.

The scholarship, which factors candidates’ commitments to “greater good” in their selection, will cover tuition, costs, and a stipend for Sharma to pursue a doctoral degree at the Cavendish Laboratories’ Centre for Nanoscience at Cambridge University.

Working at the laboratories — which have programs that align with her interests in prosthetics, materials science, and 3D printing — has been a lifelong dream for Sharma. “The fabrication, the customizability of it … it’s definitely something I want to pursue and spend my career in,” she said. The scholarship will allow her to do just that, without having to pay a tuition of over 20,000 pounds.

A materials science and engineering major, Sharma has spent much of her time in college performing research that uses 3D printing technology. She has also researched composite structures at Harvard and worked on prosthetics in Prof. Hugh Herr’s Biomechatronics Lab. Sharma said she’s been motivated to improve the lives of amputees since she was a young child interacting with land mine victims being treated by her uncle in India. “Still in India to this day there are people using sticks for prosthetics. Here we’re developing the next big thing,” said Sharma.

This drive to help those who need it most has led her to simultaneously pursue opportunities in advocacy and policy, interests that she also pursues here at MIT as the president of the Undergraduate Association.

Though Sharma considers herself “really lucky,” she emphasized that the MIT community and alumni were “central” in supporting her through the nomination process, from panels set up by the MIT Distinguished Fellowships office with faculty and other notable figures, to making connections with former MIT Gates Scholars that had gone through the process before. “I owe a lot to them,” Sharma said.

—Bruno B. F. Faviero