The Honors College empowers students to pursue the intersection of their academic interests and how they wish to change the world — and Honors College fourth-year student Shaurya Gaur has become a shining example of that.
Born in South India, Shaurya moved to the U.S. with his father when he was seven years old and has been an active member of his community ever since. Spending most of his teenage years in Sherwood, Oregon, Shaurya discovered his passion for technology, artificial intelligence and data science while also engaging in community engagement efforts and participating in clubs such as Model United Nations and speech and debate. Over his last three years at Oregon State University, Shaurya’s multifaceted interests have evolved into a collective passion and future vision.
Today, Shaurya — a computer science major and political science and mathematics minor — balances his passion for computer science and a keen interest in social justice issues by reflecting on how they potentially intersect. As he puts it, “What I want to do in life is work in the middle of tech and these really important social issues. [I want to] either work to use tech as a means to help people or to do work that looks at the effects of tech on society.”
Research and Honors Thesis
Shaurya’s research, which will ultimately become his honors thesis, also represents his diverse interests. In the fall of his first year, he connected with his research mentor, Dr. Patrick Donnelly, through the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Arts Engage program (which Shaurya recommends to any undergraduates interested in research). Donnelly is a computer science professor who works at the intersection of computer science and music. Under Donnelly, Shaurya has worked at the crossroads of music and artificial intelligence on projects that look at machine learning in the musical domain.
Shaurya’s thesis has emerged from this research. He has created a program that creates musical playlists, such as those you find on Spotify that start with your current headspace — whether it’s depressed, sad, low energy or tired — and plays songs that sequentially and progressively get more happy, positive and high energy. After starting in a more melancholy energy mood, Shaurya says, “By the end, you’re listening to a fun, happy banger.”
Additionally, Shaurya has served as a teaching assistant for various computer science classes for nearly three years, primarily focusing on data structures and web development. Here, he enjoys supporting first- and second-year students as they are introduced to his field. All these experiences have converged for him as he articulates his future goals, saying, “I want to go to graduate school to look at the effects of AI on society, especially on social media.”
Clubs and Engagement
Beyond his ambitious academic commitments and plans, Shaurya has continued to engage in the Oregon State community in many ways. For the last several years, Shaurya has been a key member of the university’s Association for Computing Machinery club. ACM is part of a much larger organization, which acts as the world’s largest scientific and educational computing society. Shaurya has previously served as both the president and vice president of this club, and he has aimed to balance the club’s focus on personal and professional development. While a member of ACM’s leadership, he organized discussions with industry professionals and competed in regional programming competitions. Most importantly for him, he cultivated a space for computer science students to socialize and learn comfortably.
Beyond the world of computer science, Shaurya is currently the vice president of Oregon State’s chapter of BridgeUSA. BridgeUSA is a national nonprofit that creates safe spaces for open discussions between individuals with differing political views. In this position, Shaurya further advocates for productive and creative collaboration and meaningful dialogue around political and cultural topics.
Closing thoughts with some hard-earned life advice
Overall, Shaurya is appreciative of his time in the Honors College. He lived in West Hall his freshman year and met many fantastic people who he still calls friends and hangs out with on a regular basis. He takes an honors colloquium every term just to meet new people and explore new ideas. From colloquiums about 1960s Hollywood counterculture to fashion in the music industry to his current one, a colloquium about conspiracy theories, he values the small class sizes and distinctive course material.
However, Shaurya is much more than his research, community leadership positions and the classes he takes. He describes himself as “a big movie and TV guy” and has recently become a fan of the new HBO show, House of the Dragon. He loves getting up early on Sundays to watch Formula 1 motor racing. He’s teaching himself German and just finished reading The Rebel by Albert Camus.
His biggest advice to younger Oregon State students is to find a system that works for them and to try new things. He recalls that he had no idea what was going to catch his interest in his first term at Oregon State. At one point, he visited over a dozen clubs. He credits being able to try so many things to finding a way to organize his schedule in a way that works for him. “There are so many things you can try. Look at club lists, register for rec sports or anything else. Just try things because you will find stuff that sticks.”
By Jax Richards, Student Writer, Honors College