BS/MS Student Ishika Kanakath receives Robert L. Shurter Prize

Ishika Kanakath, a Computer Engineering B.S./M.S. student at Case Western Reserve University’s Human Fusions Institute, was recently awarded the Robert L. Shurter Prize. The prize recognizes students for outstanding achievement and leadership in extracurricular activities in the ECSE department.

A headshot of Ishika Kanakath

During her time at CWRU, Kanakath served as president of the university's Hackathon Club, HackCWRU, where she organized the club's hackathon event, coordinated with sponsors and participants, managed finance, and ensured the club met its goals. One of the judges at the event was the first full-time HFI faculty hire, and Kanakath’s now B.S./M.S. advisor was Assistant Professor Alexis E. Block. Organizing the event allowed Kanakath to build her technical and leadership skills. “I found the whole experience very fulfilling and rewarding,” she said. “[The event] helped foster innovation and build the engineering students' community.”

As president of HackCWRU, Kanakath also facilitated workshops, recruited new members, and created a collaborative and innovative environment for all club members.

Several of Kanakath's activities also allowed her to express her love of singing. Since her first year at CWRU, she has been a dedicated member of Early Music Singers, participating in multiple performances. Her commitment extended beyond the stage as in her leisure time she sang for cancer patients at Hope Lodge, bringing them joy through music.

Kanakath's extracurricular activities have been instrumental in shaping her as a leader. She credits these experiences with providing her invaluable lessons in leadership, teamwork, communication, and community service, enriching her undergraduate education beyond the classroom.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Ishika for her outstanding achievement,” said Block. “Her exceptional performance in my graduate-level course and her work serving as president of HackCWRU are testaments to her dedication and talent inside and outside the classroom. I am thrilled to have her in my lab and look forward to doing great work together."

Kanakath was drawn to the Human Fusions Institute for its multidisciplinary focus, human-centric approach, and collaborative atmosphere. “The institute's emphasis on interdisciplinary research was attractive to me, considering my interests span areas such as robotics, materials science, hardware, and software engineering,” she said. “The opportunity to collaborate with experts from various fields will provide a rich and stimulating environment for research and innovation.”

Originally from Tustin, California, Kanakath became interested in engineering when she saw her grandfather undergoing dialysis at a young age. Because of this, her B.S./M.S. studies will focus on digital design, Register Transfer Level design, and verification. One of her goals is to deepen her design and verification expertise by exploring formal verification or low-power design techniques. Additionally, she will study the intersection of robotic hardware and software by designing and implementing systems for robotics applications.

As her career takes off, Kanakath aspires to become a technology leader and contribute to research and innovation by sharing her knowledge with aspiring engineers. She hopes that her engineering projects can positively impact society's advancements.