Photo by Shivani Jinger
Shaurya Gaur, an Honors College student graduating in June from Oregon State University with his bachelor’s degree in computer science, discovered his passions for technology and social policy early in life.
“My dad worked in tech, so I’ve always been around it,” Gaur said. “In high school, I took programming, engineering, and 3D modeling courses and learned Python and Java. I also joined our Model U.N., developing my interest in policy. I knew I wanted to solve problems for a positive social impact.”
Gaur enjoyed coding so much that he entered Oregon State as a computer science major and has not wavered. For years, he was involved with Oregon State’s ACM chapter, further motivating him to “get down to brass tacks and figure it out” when encountering coding challenges. Additionally, he has continued to explore opportunities to learn more about politics and currently leads OSU’s BridgeUSA chapter.
“We’re focused on civil discourse, getting people who disagree on issues across the political spectrum to come and talk with pizza in front of them, promoting constructive, empathetic conversations,” Gaur said.
Study abroad is one opportunity Gaur did not undertake as he’d planned, because of the pandemic. An immigrant who moved from India to the United States at age 7, Gaur maintains strong family ties in India and has returned multiple times to visit. Through these visits and hearing his cousins’ stories about living in Europe, he began to accrue international experience, growing determined to live and study overseas.
“Since COVID interfered with my undergrad experience, I started thinking more seriously about a master’s degree combining my tech interests with policy and social impact,” Gaur said. “I started looking at the Fulbright US Student Program, which is administered by Oregon State's National and Global Scholarships Advising office. It partners with so many universities and countries; I could pick and choose.”
Gaur found a perfect fit in Radboud University in the Netherlands, which offers a master’s degree in artificial intelligence with an emphasis on social impact. He knew that with the General Data Protection Regulation, the European Union has been deeply invested in the intersections of AI, data, and society. Now a Fulbright finalist, Gaur hopes to conduct research at Radboud on the effects of AI, especially on women and people of color, and ultimately to propose design and policy solutions that advocate for them.
“I’m interested in fairness in the design process of AI models and social networking, modeling how information and disinformation flow,” he said. “Society has started tuning in more about bias in AI and the impact social networks have, and the EU has become a leader in tech policy with the AI Act and Digital Markets Act. I want to get in on that.”
Gaur is interested in continuing his AI research through a doctorate. Eventually, he hopes to apply his skills in the public sector or for a nonprofit.
“I want my work to have a good social impact,” Gaur said. “That will fulfill me.”