Vishaal Varahamurthy

Major: Electrical Engineering
CSEP Affiliation: SIMS and EUREKA

Tell me about your experience in the SIMS and EUREKA programs.

It was a truly eye-opening experience which equipped me with skills and connections that I will use throughout my college career and beyond. On top of forming lasting friendships through the program, I was introduced to the realm of undergraduate research and the plethora of opportunities that UCSB has to offer. The ridiculously busy schedule we followed during the program honed my time management skills and helped me plan out my even busier schedule for my first and second quarters of freshman year. The research project itself brought to light the true potential of working in groups, eliminated any doubt I had about continuing to do research throughout college, and has influenced me to want to pursue a career in research after graduating. Although there were countless hours of homework and a staggering lack of sleep, I can honestly say that SIMS was the most fun summer I’ve ever experienced. I then researched thermoelectrics with mentor Ryan Need in Dr. Chris Palmstrom’s lab as part of CSEP’s Early Undergraduate Research and Knowledge Acquisition (EUREKA) program.

Tell us more about your experience in the SIMS program.

A two-week intensive STEM program, SIMS really gave me a headstart at UCSB and showed me that research was what I wanted to do. More than that, the friendships and connections I made through SIMS have been powerful!  After learning so much about research through SIMS as well as many research internships and programs, I applied for and was accepted to the UC Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program.

What do you do in your free time?

Throughout my time at UCSB, I volunteered as a robotics coach every Tuesday at Isla Vista Elementary school and held two jobs: one as a computer technician at UCSB Facilities Management, and the other as a programmer for UCSB’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.  When I do have free time (an extremely rare occurrence), I like to play video games, learn languages, play pong with my roommates, or just relax. Not living in the dorms my freshman year does leave me a bit isolated from people my age, but living in Isla Vista as a first-year also has its perks! I also enjoy programming for fun. Last quarter, when I only had one job, I spent a lot of my free time creating a program that did my chemistry homework for me (unfortunately the quarter was over by the time I finished).

About SIMS

The SIMS program brings science, engineering, and mathematics incoming freshmen to the UC Santa Barbara campus for the Summer Institute in Mathematics and Science, a 2-week science intensive residential program hosted by CNSI.


The EUREKA! program is designed to enrich the academic experience of undergraduates at UCSB in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) disciplines early on in their educational careers. The program is focused on introducing students in their first year to the broader science community on campus and providing exposure to research through academic year internships.


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Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6105