Spark’s Secret Ingredient Isn’t the Technology – It’s the People

Machine learning, coding, software engineering – all concepts related to Spark!, but the real moving parts that keep Spark! going can’t be coded or prototyped.

Students and faculty are at the heart of the process, and you don’t know enough about Spark! if you don’t know the name Dharmesh Tarapore – BU alum and Spark!’s secret ingredient.

As Spark! Technical Director, Tarapore leads two of the most uniquely structured practicums in the computer science department. “The practicums, both machine learning and software engineering, allow students to become constructors of their own knowledge,” said Tarapore. “Students choose the projects they want to work on. They give students the freedom to work on projects that have a real-world impact.”

Tarapore’s instruction and course style isn’t lost on students. “With the projects in this course, I have felt the most proud and the most involved compared to other courses in previous years,” said Alex Thomas, machine learning student. “I feel like the projects in Dharmesh’s class are more fulfilling, relevant, and teach me more about the resources out there for computer scientists.”

Interdisciplinary collaboration runs rampant throughout Tarapore’s courses, allowing students to collaborate with people outside their respective fields.

“His class was everything I wanted out of a higher level software engineering elective: useful skills, engaging, and more than anything, experience in the workforce,” said Tung Truong, a practicum student. “It’s the class and project I talk about most in my interviews because I feel like this class opens up so many doors.”

As a Spark! alum himself, Tarapore’s dedication to students resonates even after graduation. “Dharmesh is the only professor that’s gotten me to look forward to evening class and it just speaks to him as both a person and a teacher,” recalled former student, Robin Rhodes.

“I love the fact that I get paid to do that. Speaking altruistically, I cherish the ability to teach people skills that they will find useful over the course of their careers,” Tarapore said.

For more on Tarapore outside of the classroom, and his groundbreaking small aircraft collision avoidance system, visit Bostonia.