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Manikantanagasai (Mani) Illuri: Undergraduate Student

Degree Program: Computer Science, B.S.

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Manikantanagasai (Mani) Illuri: Undergraduate Student

“This whole evolution of technology fascinates me, and I want to find ways that I can contribute to innovation that improves our quality of life.”

Manikantanagasai (Mani) Illuri just completed his first year at UC Santa Cruz. While in high school, he took several courses at a community college to stay ahead and better prepare for a major in computer science. In his free time, Illuri has been developing a social media platform that connects senior citizens to teens in the area for help completing everyday tasks. He plans to further develop this platform with his current team he met in high school and a few new peers he’s met at UCSC. 

Why did you choose to study computer science?

Computer science interests me because the world is moving in a technology-driven path. From elementary school to high school, I’ve seen and experienced the advancement of technology and the good that comes from it. This whole evolution of technology fascinates me, and I want to find ways that I can contribute to innovation that improves our quality of life.

Could you discuss the social media platform project you started during a high school hackathon?

It all started during a 48-hour hackathon. My team was placed into the “Community Services” category. We scrambled up an idea to create a social media platform that connects senior citizens to teens in the area to help complete daily errands that they are unable to do on their own. The teens complete the tasks for either community service hours or payment. I think it’s a unique way for two different age groups to mingle and help each other out. Teens get the wisdom and experience and an opportunity to complete community service hours or make an income, while the senior citizens get their daily tasks done.

This project is still a major work in progress. Progress slowed when COVID struck. We’re trying to put things back on track and see where this takes us. During the hackathon, we were a trio. I’m planning on recruiting more members to our team to help move the project forward. 

What is your role with UCSC ITS?

I’m working in the maintenance department of ITS. My job entails going to classrooms to check equipment and handling technical support issue tickets. Just in the short time that I’ve been in this role, I noticed unnecessary tasks and processes in order to maintain one single classroom. I started brainstorming ways we could automate the processes to make it easier and quicker to maintain each classroom. I’ve begun working on a project with my manager that aims to build a streamlined web platform for our department’s management of classrooms. This project will allow me to expand my programming skills.

Are you part of any student organizations on campus?

I participated in the Indian Student Association (ISA) Cultural Show 2022. I was the lead role in one of the play’s skits. The whole performance was situated around a continuous play, and after every scene, there was a performance that the scene would segue into. I plan on becoming a member of the IAS Board next year. 

What was your favorite class during your first year?

So far, I’ve really enjoyed two courses. One was CSE 20, Beginning Programming in Python. The projects were basic but very intuitive and got me interested in programming. In addition to that course, I really enjoyed CSE 30, Programming Abstractions: Python. CSE 130 was a combination of 17 homework assignments throughout the quarter. We developed things such as a sock drawer program, which would simulate users taking socks out of a drawer and then it would replenish the inventory and tell you what you have left. We also created a Sudoku automator. I thought these interactive, hands-on projects were a great way to introduce students to programming.

What has been your favorite memory at UCSC so far?

One of the best memories I’ve had involves the community room, which is located between the College Nine and John R. Lewis College apartments. It’s a little lounge room with a billiards table. I love playing billiards and got a lot of my friends into the game as well. We would have days where we would finish an assignment or exam and then celebrate by playing billiards. It was a fun way to de-stress and engage in friendly competition. 

Interview Date: June 13, 2022

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