A cursory search about IIIT-Hyderabad on Quora reveals that the most frequently asked questions from aspirants deal with the distinction between IIITH and “other Indian institutes”. And one of the most upvoted answers is the unprecedented opportunity given to undergraduate students to pursue research and publish papers at international conferences. A case in point is Saumya Rawat. A 4th year B.Tech (Hons) student, 22-year old Saumya has earned bragging rights of being the only undergraduate student to present her paper: “Find me a sky: a data-driven method for color-consistent sky search & replacement” at the 24th International Conference on Multimedia Modeling held in Bangkok on February 5-7, 2018.
How It All Began
Saumya traces the beginnings of her fascination towards computers back to high school when she first began dabbling in C++. But it wasn’t until her course on Computer Graphics in the sophomore year that she was drawn towards Computer Vision. The far-reaching potential of the field and its myriad applications in the practical world found Saumya at the Center for Visual Information Technology (CVIT). And opting for the Honours programme, where a student can do research for 4 additional credits each semester, seemed like the most natural thing to do. At CVIT, Saumya was introduced to a research problem by Rajvi Shah, a PhD student who is being mentored by Prof. P.J. Narayan.
So What’s The Problem
As a photographer herself, Saumya says, “I .. had faced the problem where I was often unable to take good photos due to overexposure or the lack of an aesthetic sky at the time of photographing a beautiful scene.” But manually replacing such skies leads to a situation where one has to color correct the foreground after replacement to make it consistent with the new sky. Co-authored by fellow B.Tech student, Sidhharth Gairola, Saumya’s paper proposes a data-driven method to automate the process of sky replacement and color correction, while maintaining the overall realism of the scene.
Publishing and Presenting
Saumya was encouraged to submit her paper to the Multimedia Modelling conference. It is a matter of pride that out of 158 full papers submitted, 46 were selected for oral presentation and the overall acceptance rate was 47%. “The environment in the research labs at IIITH is extremely professional which provides equal opportunity to every student to carry out their work to their full potential irrespective of gender”, avers Saumya. The CVIT lab provides grants to authors to attend a conference subject to approval of person in charge. Saumya not only applied for the CVIT travel grant but also applied for and obtained an ACM-W (Association for Computing Machinery – Council for Women in Computing) scholarship that “provides support for women undergraduate and graduate students in Computer Science and related programs to attend research conferences.”
Apart from photography, Saumya unwinds by dancing. She can also be found sometimes on the basketball court shooting hoops. Any words of advice to aspiring girls? “Girls in tech often face the problem of feeling alienated and under-confident in the still male-dominated field, but it’s just all about believing in our capabilities and taking the leap of faith”, says Saumya Rawat.