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Cover image for CHIT-CHAT with Alumni: Episode 11- Research is formalized Curiosity.
Anisha Biswal for Spectrum Club

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CHIT-CHAT with Alumni: Episode 11- Research is formalized Curiosity.

The SPECTRUM club is one of the core technical societies of the College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneshwar founded in 2015 by Mr.Bikram Keshari Panda(2015 graduate), scrutinizing on the sole motive of Instrumentation and Electronics Engineering branch having a club of its own.

Apart from being involved in a plethora of competitions and technical events, the club decided to start its very own "Alumni Talk Series" called "Chit-Chat with Alumni".

The goal is to bridge the gap between the current and previous batches of our college and increase the awareness of students in terms of work that one does in college, exposure, jobs, higher studies, and of course networking. These interactive sessions are a small shot at helping college students to step out of their fishbowl life.

The first episode was first hosted on the 17th of October, 2020.

The 11th Episode was hosted on 20th March 2021 and the speaker for the afternoon was Neeraj Sharma.

Neeraj Sharma has completed his BTech in Instrumentation and Electronics from the College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneswar in 2009. Curiosity to ask and answer unknown questions made him join the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore for a Masters and Ph.D., both in the area of Speech Signal Processing. Following this, to broaden his research interests, he worked at Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris and Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, and studied aspects of Auditory Neuroscience. Currently, he is working as a CV Raman Postdoctoral Fellow at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, exploring speech and audio processing in humans and machines.

Mr.Neeraj Sharma made an admirable start to the evening. Firstly he made us dive into a vast acknowledgment of the term Spectrum, its meaning in the dictionary from the 1820s with good rich history, and its technicalities with a graphical representation.

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Further in the session, he discussed his interests and hobbies which included playing cricket. He spoke about his fascination in the field of science and the life of scientists. He mockingly addressed that playing cricket was tougher than IIT-JEE so he pursued his dream to become a Scientist. He said us about his score in IIT-JEE and his thoughts about dropping a year but it was unadvisable, so he joined CET in 2005. He felt providential in meeting a diverse group of friends in college who belonged to different regions of the state and different parts of the country. He also thanked his teachers for being a constant support and encouragement for higher studies during his college life.

He introduced us to a very pleasing thought of his own that
"If you find yourself bounded and lack resources to accomplish goals, then your interest and freedom of mind can keep you accelerating." Freedom of Mind is the sole factor to keep on driving the vehicle called professional life.
He also thanked the library mam of his time who was supportive and made good suggestions in books. He talked about the syllabus and some good author books found there. He cleared the prestigious GATE exam with a rank of 501 and joined IISc after clearing the interview process for Masters and Ph.D.

He detailed the meaning of a degree with an absolute reference. Could be represented as the theory of career in a circle.

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He further discussed the usage of spectrum over time. He described the white light spectrum and its splitting after passing through prism, light spectrum, Maxwell Electromagnetic Spectrum.
Further, he briefed about Signal Spectrum and breaking the signal into parts.

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Signals:In simple terms, a signal can be referred to as a description of how one parameter varies with another parameter. Signals can be in different forms such as Sound Signal (which include speech, animal sounds, etc) Images, Seismic signals, and so on. He primarily focused on sound signals with the idea of breaking them into parts.
But again, Why do we need to break signals into parts? This question was justified by the explanation of the Signal Processing Pipeline.
He found sound signals fascinating in several ways. He provided us with numerous examples from our daily lives such as speaking over the phone, blowing of the wind, animals making sounds, and so on to justify that sound wave gives the information of the source and enable us to understand the message. We can not only hear sound but also create sound. It's not very easy in the case of images because if we are asked to sketch an image we have seen recently we cannot do it immediately. But in the case of sound signals, we can respond, remember and create easily. He also made a great effort to let us visualize the spectrum of speech.

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The main aspect of the session was his research work which indeed uplifted the levels of curiosity in the attendees.

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Can a microphone hear COVID-19?
While visualizing the present Covid scenario and the usage of various temperature-controlled sensors to monitor symptoms in different places, he came up with an advanced idea of involving sound signals to detect whether a person is suffering from covid or not.
The main idea is to build a diagnostic tool based on respiratory, cough, and speech sounds.
Talking deeply about his research work he began the discussion with examples of various testing methods which are followed to identify the viral infection.These included Molecular Testing and Serological Testing.These testing methods need supervision to be accurate and cannot be carried out in bulk amounts as they are prolonged.
But, How can sound detect covid-19 while it doesn't carry any virus?
When a person is infected, there's a change in his/her speech whose biological reason is inflammation in the bronchi or blockage in the respiratory passage. This affects the general sound signal and the intensity of speech. The change in the pattern of regular speech changes the spectrum of the speech signal and thereby helps us to identify the viral infection.
If a person coughs, there's an increase in the amplitude of sound which was practically shown by our speaker during the live session.
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We had a great session and we wish him all the best for future endeavors.

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