NASA People

Center Snapshot: Amit Singh
04.30.10
 
Amit Singh. Image above: When Amit Singh isn't developing brainwave applications as an intern at Langley, he watches comedy movies, plays cricket and listens to Hindi music. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

Amit Singh's primary school is in a small southern village called Patahi, which lies in the Rautahat district of Nepal. That school provided him with an education, but it didn’t provide him a shelter from the storm ... Or even the rain.

For shelter, he would have to stay home. And he did.

On days when it rained, the school would close. With a roof of hay and straw, his classroom would get flooded. The school did not have desks or benches for the students, so they sat on the floor.

Singh did not attend a school with walls until sixth grade.

He went on to graduate high school in Nepal and then he moved to Minnesota, where he worked for about a year before starting his undergraduate degree at University of Minnesota.

He is finishing the final week of his internship through the Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) at NASA Langley. In the fall, he will attend Cornell , where he plans to earn a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.

Although Singh does not consider himself financially stable yet, he has already set up a yearly scholarship program, named for his late grandmother and grandfather, for students at the primary school he attended. It is awarded to the top five students in each class, from first through fifth grade.

"It's intended to increase intellectual competition among the students and make them more interested in their education," Singh said.

His family still lives in Nepal. His older brother is a civil engineer, and his father works as a civil servant. His mother takes care of their home.

While in Minnesota, Singh did research on Brain Computer Interface (BCI). According to Singh, that research set the foundation for his internship at Langley.

Also while in Minnesota, he saw news coverage of NASA launching a satellite. Curiosity led him to NASA’s website, where he came across information about the USRP Program at Langley.

About 15 weeks ago, Singh relocated to NASA Langley to pursue an internship.

He has since developed and tested hardware and a software application that breaks down brainwaves. He uses those results to prevent the users of a computer or any other entity from making errors due to inattention.

His project is called the "brain wave error guard system."

"The most exciting part of my work is to transmit engagement index data wirelessly from the Stamp board to PC via a Bluetooth Module," Singh said. "I think the concept of transferring brain wave data wirelessly is very unique and exciting."

He also appreciates the environment at NASA Langley. "Everybody is very friendly and caring and treats us with the same respect as a regular employee, even though I am just an intern," he said. "My mentor, Alan Pope, has a supportive and encouraging behavior that has helped me to successfully complete this project."

Singh has spent most of his time in the U.S. in Minnesota, but he prefers the weather in Virginia.

His overall preference of places he has lived and visited is Pokhara, a city in Nepal that he visited on a scouting trip in high school. "I just loved that city, especially the mountains, lakes and its climate. It felt like I was very close to nature," he said.

Singh said he hopes his education at Cornell will lead him back to NASA.

He should have no problems staying focused, as he considers himself goal-oriented. He also considers himself balanced, having spent time in both eastern and western parts of the world.

"I characterize myself as a global citizen, and I wish to work for the future of human kind," he said.