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Ishwari Bendre

April 2013 

I say it a lot, and I mean it every single time - I did not know opportunity until I came to Caltech.

An international student from India, I was motivated by my father’s fascination for tinkering with gadgets to pursue an education in mechanical engineering. After hearing about Caltech, I visited the website, discovered the amazing research students just a year older than me were participating in, and was encouraged to make the leap without ever visiting campus.  Over the next 4 years, Caltech lived up to every expectation and more.

I decided to study MechE, so it was logical in my junior year to take Professor Ken Pickar’s ME 105 class Product Design for the Developing World – and I was inspired. The class collaborated remotely with students from India, working together to find solutions for real problems that we investigated through market research, intense brainstorming, and rapid prototyping.

In my senior year, I became a TA for Prof. Pickar, including Product Design. The class teamed up locally with Art Center and internationally with Saint Gregorios Institute of Technology and Sciences (SaintGITS) on India’s southwestern coast. We actually traveled to India, our mission to look at various local industries in remote villages. Students concluded the trip by developing innovative solutions to a broad depth of problems in the area that could make a difference: from improving upon the village’s manual and dangerous fertilizer-mixing process, to helping homemakers by designing a cheap, safe all-inclusive cutting tool in the kitchen. It was heartening to see the students so inspired and resolute; some teams continued to work on their projects well into the following terms. Personally, it was an eye-opening experience that helped me realize there was so much I didn’t know about my own country when I approached it from a new perspective.

A year later, I provide trading support to market makers on Wall Street. The extremely strong academics at Caltech prepared me for the rigorous work I do now - when so much is expected of you early on, the learning processes throughout all areas of life become easier.  I stay connected to Caltech as a mentor to this year’s students in Ken Pickar’s class, and by sharing my experiences with other Techers and students. It’s a privilege to be a Caltech alumna, and I am proud to tell you my story.

Every year, every gift, any amount – your generous support impacts student experiences like mine as we continue Caltech’s legacy of discovery and exploration. Thank you for taking the time to meet me and considering a gift to support the New Generation of Techers.

Yours truly,

Ishwari N. Bendre BS ’12