Exploring — and learning — as an adventure

ASU engineering grad seeks what 21st-century people need

ASU graduate Jay Patel

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement 

When Jay Patel graduated from college in India in 2015, he planned to start his own business. The native of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, had a business model and sponsors ready. Then he had a strange thought.

“What if I explore the country where they have all kinds of people, all kinds of mixtures, where there is a fusion of all brains, where people execute real ideas?” he said. “So I thought to explore this country as an adventure so that I would learn more. I could develop a brand-new perspective so that I could understand different kinds of people and different cultures, what a person in the 21st century really needs. That’s why I came to the USA.”

It’s also why Patel came to ASU. He earned a master’s degree in management of technology from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at the Polytechnic campus, focusing on entrepreneurship. Now he’s ready to return home and execute his idea.

In India, “so many people live far from their homes, where they cannot get quality food and they cannot get quality accommodation,” he said. “I’m trying to develop a cloud model where anything is available easily. … Ultimately (the) goal will be to provide the people of India with quality food at a low price. The overall ultimate goal is to go back to (my) country, where I can work on that idea on a much larger scale.”

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: The first important thing is the eagerness to learn new things. The second thing is to put that idea into execution. How do you put that idea into the real world in the most optimized way?

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Work hard. Don’t spend time doing something that is not leading you towards your goals. Always work hard. Keep yourself busy doing new things and learning new things.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: It’s actually on the Poly campus: the advising building. They have this nice little lawn on the east side. When I was tired or had a break between classes I would just go there and lie down under the tree. That’s really a good spot. It’s peaceful.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would like to make a smart shopping card which is synced with the inventory in that store. As soon as you enter the store, your mobile phone will suggest would you like to buy this based on your shopping history. It gives you the optimized route through the store. If you are buying pasta, it asks if you would like to buy pasta sauce. And when you are done, you pay through Android Pay.

Above photo: Management of technology graduate student Jay Patel, who is also vice president of professional development for the GPSA, poses for a portrait outside the ASU Design School on the Tempe campus on April 16. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow

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