Carnegie Mellon University
December 21, 2022

Students Solved 20 Challenges for Silicon Valley Sponsors

By Ann Lyon Ritchie

INI Communications Team

Carnegie Mellon University’s Information Networking Institute (INI) hosted “Innovate in the Wild,” the 2022 Practicum Showcase & Networking Reception at the Plug and Play Tech Center near CMU’s Silicon Valley campus on Friday, December 9. The showcase wowed attendees with student-industry presentations on impressive projects.

“The event was a great way to connect with both students and alumni. I was impressed with what the students have accomplished and what they have learned in the process of completing these projects. It showcased the talent and caliber of not only the students but also the programs that INI offer,” said Erye Hernandez, an INI alumna and a senior security engineer at Google.

This fall, twenty teams delivered solutions for 11 industry sponsors, who were Adobe Inc., Carnegie Mellon University, Democracy Lab, Honda Development and Manufacturing of America, iSeaTree, NASA, She Built This City, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Staris Labs, Turn the Bus and Venafi.

The practicum is a capstone experience for the bicoastal programs, the M.S. in Information Technology – Information Security (MSIT-IS) and the M.S. in Mobile and IoT Engineering (MSMITE). Select students from the Integrated Innovation Institute at Silicon Valley also participated on the teams. The projects span a variety of topics in computing, mobile systems and security, and range from fundamental research to software development.


Photos of the Networking Reception

The Silicon Valley Difference

“The practicum has always been important to the bicoastal programs because the students contribute to meaningful work and meet innovators who are working on next-generation ideas. Our campus in Silicon Valley allows students to develop deep working relationships with local sponsors,” said Dena Haritos Tsamitis, INI director and the Barbara Lazarus Professor of Information Networking.

Haritos Tsamitis spearheaded the launch of INI’s bicoastal programs 15 years ago to leverage the strengths of CMU’s Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley’s campuses.

“Our bicoastal students make an impact in Silicon Valley, at the very heart of the tech industry. After graduation, many continue careers in project-based work, where they become fully engaged as innovators and changemakers in the industry that inspired them to pursue graduate studies in the first place,” Haritos Tsamitis said.


Team of Bolor-Erdene Jagdagdorj, Fu Tan, Haoran Bai, Li Yang Chang, Mingzhi Cai, Peiyang Yu, and  Ayushi Jha with their poster. (Not all teammates are pictured.)

Teams: Sponsor + Students + Advisor

Each industry sponsor is matched with a highly skilled team of three to six students and CMU faculty advisor. The students solve a problem for their sponsor using newly gained knowledge from their graduate studies, along with ingenuity.

“It was an incredible learning experience getting to apply topics from coursework in a real-life industry problem. It was rewarding to know that our work had a real impact and a purpose beyond the classroom,” said Bolor-Erdene Jagdagdorj, an MSIT-IS student.

Jagdagdorj added: “For our project, we worked on a machine-learning solution for the Adobe Express Site Reliability Engineering team.  It was an exciting challenge to learn and apply new types of machine learning models and to work in a fast-based team environment. We all learned technical skills as well as soft skills for effective collaboration and communication which will benefit us in our future careers.”

Who Can Sponsor a Practicum Project?

CMU welcomes practicum proposals from corporate, nonprofit, government and research sponsors. Non-profit sponsors were a new opportunity this year allowing students to participate in making a positive societal impact.

Sara Gaal, INI director of strategic relations, helps coordinate sponsors for the 14-week projects.

“Sponsors benefit from sponsoring a project in myriad ways,” Gaal said. “They have a dedicated team of four to six students tackling problems, piloting new ideas, and developing solutions for over three months.

“Sponsors can work closely with the students and many use this project as a recruitment tool. They also have the opportunity to work with some of CMU's smartest minds to gain meaningful impact and ROI for their company,” Gaal said.

View photos of the 2022 Practicum Showcase

CMU faculty and staff are looking to coordinate the next practicum teams. Companies and organizations can find out more information about sponsoring a practicum project here or contact