Carl Edwards completed his undergraduate computer science degree at UT with great success and is headed for PhD studies at the University of Illinois. He earned an impressive portfolio of scholarships and fellowships in his time as an Engineering Vol, built a foundation for discovery that he carries on into doctoral research, and enjoyed encouraging mentorship from faculty and family.
“I had the pleasure to be supported by generous scholarships, giving me the chance to focus on my studies,” said Edwards. This roster of support included the Min H. Kao Scholarship, Thomas and Kathryn Shelton Award, Hope Scholarship, National Merit Scholarship, UT Provost Scholarship, Finner Family Scholarship, UT Volunteer Scholarship, and Schmitt Memorial Scholarship.
“I also received the Chancellor’s Honors Program Ready for the World grant and the Euroscholars Research Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research,” he said. “Additionally, thanks to excellent support from UT, I was able to win a Goldwater Scholarship.”
Edwards applied this support to a focus on machine learning, data, and artificial intelligence.
“I believe that a critical next step in the development of this area will be the creation of models that can generalize well on multiple tasks and which learn from multiple contrasting yet complementary domains of data,” he said.
His work combines information from these varied types of data for use in solving different types of problems.
“This is why I’ve developed an interest in the areas of machine learning that incorporate multiple modalities of data, such as using joint embeddings for different data types (like text, images, or knowledge graphs),” he said. “Additionally, I am interested in multi-task learning, transfer learning, and natural language processing.”
Edwards studied abroad in fall 2018 at the University of Zürich, Switzerland.
“There, I worked on a project involving alignment and embedding of knowledge graphs and image datasets using the multi-task learning-based KADE method,” he said. “Studying abroad in Switzerland allowed me to obtain a broader, enriched understanding of research with a cross-cultural perspective.”
Edwards will continue this study as he works toward a PhD in computer science.
“I’m still working out the exact direction of my PhD, but I think it will be most similar to the work I did while studying abroad in Switzerland,” he said.
Edwards found solid academic mentorship early on at UT. As a first-year student, he interviewed Professor Michael W. Berry for an English class paper, then got to know him better during his sophomore year.
“I took CS317, which was an honors class, so I worked together with Professor Berry and a small group of students to create a workbook,” he said.
“Carl did phenomenal work in helping to create a workbook for COSC 311 (Discrete Structures) that over 100 students use every academic year in our department,” said Berry. “He provided excellent examples for the graph theory component of the workbook.”
Berry helped Edwards look ahead to graduate career.
“I’d always been interested in pursuing graduate school, and Professor Berry was always happy to offer me guidance,” he said. “He is truly an asset to the university, and he’s always happy to help guide students toward their academic and career goals.”
Edwards also draws ongoing inspiration from his father, Brian Edwards, professor and associate head of UT’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
“I think that my father helped me to learn the value of learning,” said Edwards. “He’s always been supportive and encouraging of my education. I think that seeing my father’s engineering career helped me to know that pursuing a PhD is possible and showed me what opportunities might be available for this career path.”
Edwards might have stepped forth from Rocky Top, but he carries the Volunteer Spirit with him as he builds his engineering career.