Nina despite being born in a middle class family and despite having spent her childhood in the beautiful but isolated suburbs of tribal Jharkhand rose above expectations. Signs of genius were there from the beginning. Her scientifically detailed handwritten note on "transferring sense of smell" when she was in class VIII (which was patented recently in the US) and her gold medal for All India CBSE (Class XII) in physics, gave ample proof of things to come. Inspite of all odds, she was selected for three All India Engineering and two All India Medical Competitions. She, however, chose to graduate from I.I.T Kharagpur in the discipline of Electronics and Communications Engineering. Again going against the tide, and in spite of best job offers, she joined a research project at I.I.T Kharagpur, undertaking work in the area of producing medical instrumentation at cheap and competitive rates in India. She devoted two years to working on the project after her graduation.
She did her M.S. in Computer Science from USF Tampa. She graduated with perfect GPA (4.0/4.0) and was adjudged topper of the class. On account of her brilliance, she was awarded the much coveted graduate fellowship (along with the usual scholarship and tution waiver). She was also honoured by multiple honour societies, like Epsilon Pi Epsilon and Phi Kappa Phi. She thereafter undertook her Ph.D in Computer Engineering at University of Texas, Austin in the area of Formal Verification. Where again she came out with flying colours, completing her Ph.D in three years with perfect grades (4.0/4.0). She again topped her class. During the entire period she had to financially support her ageing parents. She subsisted on 50c Bean Burritos and undertook tution to support herself financially during these periods.
After graduation, she was offered jobs in prestigious US companies. Her desire to be on the leading edge of technology led her to INTEL, where she joined as a senior engineer. She led cutting edge research and development in the area of next generation server architecture (IA-64) design and formal verification and was awarded multiple distinguished awards and plaques for leading path-breaking R&D efforts. She was recognized as an authority in her area and was invited to be in the program committee and to be session chair in multiple top-tier conferences (including ICCD).
Nina was very unassuming and down-to-earth person. She never flaunted her achievements. She was extremely simple and hardworking person. At the same time, she stood by her convictions and continually strived towards correcting negative stereotyping of minority women in technology.
During her succesful career, Nina was always interested in alleviating poverty in India. She initiated contacts with govt. departments and agencies to assist her in an effort to use sustainable energy (Solar energy) for projects meant for rural and tribal development. In parallel, she also was trying to raise money through venture capital firms to achieve her goal. Nina passed away tragically in 2005 and her dreams remained unfulfilled.
The Nina Saxena Memorial Fund is but a small step in the direction of fulfilling her dreams. The intent of the fund is to perpetuate excellence despite all odds. The charter of the Fund is thus to provide facilities, mechanisms and opportunities to enable individuals to rise above expectations and better serve society.
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