In his first two years of college, at the California Institute of Technology, Vidy Vairavamurthy devoured all of Cal Tech’s finance courses and developed an avid interest in business.
He began to investigate schools with more robust business programs and decided to transfer to Lehigh his junior year because of the university’s new information and systems engineering program.
“The I&SE program is a good combination of business and engineering,” says Vidy, who plans to pursue a career in financial services. “It offers a strong background in math, computer science and optimization, and helps you find solutions for problems that arise in many different types of settings.”
Vidy completed his B.S. in I&SE in 2004 after taking courses in accounting, finance, and e-commerce, as well as probability and stochastic models, operations research, and databases and web applications. He also studied information systems from both the business and engineering points of view.
Courses in the industrial and systems engineering department, which runs the I&SE program, often assigned teams of students to tackle real-world projects.
In his web applications course, Vidy’s team created a fully functional web site for a Lehigh restaurant. Using different web software programs – java script, dynamic HTML and PHP – his team introduced e-commerce applications, including an interactive menu, suggestion form, and order form.
In his simulations course, Vidy’s team used computer software to replicate a testing facility for a biotechnology-pharmaceutical company. The goal was to determine how many testing machines would be needed and how often tests would need to be performed.
“This kind of project is very helpful,” says Vidy. “Simulation is not just for manufacturing; it can be applied to a lot of different projects.”
In the summer of 2003, after his first year at Lehigh, Vidy completed an internship in a new company founded by George Kledaras ’87 that supplies web-based reporting systems to asset managers. David Wu, chair of industrial and systems engineering, helped Vidy find the internship.
“The job gave me an appreciation and understanding for what the industry has to offer,” says Vidy.
The reporting systems on which Vidy worked with Kledaras enable companies to report their financial status in real time to custodians, clients and brokers. “Currently, there’s a one- to two-month lag as people draft reports on Excel; it’s very labor intensive,” says Vidy. “We used different programming languages to speed up that process and add transparency and facilitate trading.”
In addition to the internship with Kledaras, Vidy also did a summer research project with Wu. He investigated educational, career and research opportunities available in the financial services industry, then gave a presentation in the fall to Wu’s graduate students.
During the summer of 2004, Vidy will do an internship with BlackRock Solutions, a Wall Street firm. He secured this second internship with help from Kledaras.
In 2004-05, Vidy will stay at Lehigh to pursue an M.S. in analytical finance, a new one-year, cross-disciplinary degree program in industrial engineering, math and finance. He has a Presidential Scholarship, which offers a tuition-free fifth year to students who compile a 3.75 GPA during their undergraduate years.
Outside class, Vidy, a native of Sri Lanka who moved to the U.S. when he was 3, helps the Indian Student Association advertise cultural events and raise funds. At ISA’s annual cultural show, Vidy has given a lecture on the historical achievements of people from the Indian subcontinent and has also taken part in three dances – his first public appearance as a dancer.
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004