Q&A with Amrutha Killada, Researcher at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab

MITili Staff

Amrutha Killada has experience in product development and management. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Science in Engineering and Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in IDM (Integrated Design and Management) program. Previously she has graduated with MBA degree from Babson College.

Through her current work as part of MIT’s MassBridge project, she is helping to bridge the gap between education and employment. As part of that effort she has recently completed research finding ways to make collaboration between education and industry partners more effective. You can learn more about her work on that project here

The work you’re doing on MassBridge is an eye-opening experience on how little industry and education seem to collaborate. What has surprised you the most about your current research? 

As a result of my personal background, I had a limited understanding of community colleges when I joined the MassBridge project. However, the project has changed my perspective on community colleges and their role in uplifting their communities. This has influenced my learning of colleges’ curriculums and how they should work with industries to introduce new manufacturing technology to students. We have found from our research that by valuing ‘Learning outcomes’, ‘Alignment with industry needs’ and ‘Employer feedback on industry needs’ as top methods to evaluate their curriculums, community colleges are headed in the right direction to produce workers who are prepared for new manufacturing technologies.

How can we help bridge the gap between educators and industry leaders to make sure students are receiving the education they need to succeed? 

Our research revealed that there is much work to be done to bring industry and education together as educators and industry leaders have varying levels of satisfaction when it comes to different collaboration activities such as curriculum development, training incumbent workers, and hiring students for manufacturing roles, internships, and apprenticeships.  There are many opportunities for working together and as advanced manufacturing technologies continue to develop, curriculum must evolve as well. Businesses in need of workers with relevant degrees or certificates can collaborate with higher education on what to embed in the curriculum. An ongoing effort will be necessary to properly prepare students for future jobs in the manufacturing industry by accrediting them appropriately and equipping schools with the necessary equipment.

Are there any teachers who have had an impact on your own educational journey, either here at MIT or in your past studies?

I strongly believe that teachers inspire and guide their students not just in their classroom but also outside too. I am indebted to my former teachers who have inspired my love for business strategy at Babson college -Professor Sam Hariharan and Professor Alia Crocker - a theme that I have continued to explore here at MIT as well, I have found Professor George Westerman’s leadership, guidance and mentorship to be of great help to me in my time at MIT. In addition to providing guidance in my academic and professional pursuits, Professor Westerman consistently provided me with inspiration for lifelong learning.

What do you enjoy doing with the little spare time you have on campus? 

Cambridge is a beautiful city of which I take advantage of by walking along the Charles River and Harvard square. My most enjoyed activity, however, is spending time in the basement of Harvard Book Store, exploring books. I also enjoy horology; therefore, when it is cold outside (most of the time being winter here in New England), I spend my time indoors reading about watches and tinkering with them.

What is your favorite thing about MIT?

MIT has a remarkable variety of academic and extracurricular activities, allowing students to pursue interests of all kinds. As a student at MIT, I had the opportunity to work with world-renowned professors and students who inspired me to explore new topics and MIT provided the platform to experience this. Some of my most memorable experiences, such as hearing first-hand from Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa about her work, participating in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop competition as a team, and taking classes with certified pilots and learning about human factors engineering with them.