The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share another installment of A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and SIPA faculty. In this issue, we feature current SIPA student Srujan Routhu MPA ’18. Srujan is a second year Master of Public Administration candidate, concentrating in Economic and Political Development (EPD) and specializing in Advanced Policy & Economic Analysis.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 2012. After, I worked as a policy researcher in a think tank housed inside the Reserve Bank of India, focused on corporate finance and research in debt restructuring, primary debt issuances in India, rural cooperative banking, and financial inclusion. Before coming to SIPA, I worked as the head of engineering for an educational technology firm. I also co-founded and was Treasurer of an NGO which is focused on programming based on rural schools, school infrastructure, and public health programs targeting school children.

Why did you choose your particular areas of study?

While my technical skills and interests lie in finance, economics, data analytics, and technology, my goal is to use these skills in some of the subsectors of development, like education, healthcare, agriculture, or disaster relief. I chose EPD as my concentration to learn about these subsectors and how technology and finance can improve development outcomes.

What are some of the experiences you’ve had outside of the classroom while at SIPA?

Beginning in my first semester and through summer 2017, I worked in the EdLab at Teachers College, helping to design and build technology for the education sector. Last year, I participated in the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge on one of the finalist teams. We had the good fortune to represent SIPA at the GPPN Annual Conference held in February 2017 at Sciences Po in Paris.

I also have participated in two EPD workshops. Last spring, I was part of a team that worked with Study Hall Educational Foundation, identifying pathways to scale up their flagship gender focused teacher training program. Currently, I am working with UNHCR as a project manager, helping UNHCR’s cash based interventions program to make better use of their data by improving information dissemination and providing insights to improve their operations.

How is your last semester at SIPA shaping up?

I am working on research pertaining to cryptocurrencies, implementing various macroeconomic models and analyzing how economic policy could potentially unfold given the constraints and special characteristics associated with cryptocurrencies. Separately, I am conducting independent research to better understand how digital identity can be both useful and harmful.

I am also part of a team selected for the Atos IT Challenge 2018, working to use demand response utility pricing data, machine learning, and IoTs to provide cost optimization solutions to utility service providers and consumers.

Is there a particular SIPA experience that stands out?

I have had many great experiences at SIPA. But for me, the most outstanding experience has been in the two courses I took with Professor Lisa Anderson. Coming from a science background, I had a chance to explore topics that were radically different from what I had generally studied before coming to SIPA. This experience pushed me quite far out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.