Sukumar focuses on athlete's spatial ability, not tuition bill

Karthik Sukumar splits his time between teaching, taking classes and completing his master’s thesis on spatial ability in athletes. It doesn’t leave much time for other activities or part-time jobs.

Which is why he is thankful for the funding he receives as a teaching assistant and the Sriver Graduate Scholarship in Computer Graphics Technology. “It is so important. I don't have to worry about the money aspect,” Sukumar said. “I can focus on what I came here to do.”

He is able to teach CGT 163 (Graphical Communication and Spatial Analysis), and the subject matter dovetails with his research interest.

He came to Purdue to study computer graphics after earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science in India. His initial interest in CGT was animation. While doing research on graduate programs, he settled on Purdue’s program because it was the only one that integrated both artistic and software aspects. His first class at Purdue touched on spatial visualization, and he was hooked. Since then, he has taught spatial visualization during the summer STEM Academic Boot Camp as well as the CGT 163 sections.

“My thesis is on how visualization is primary to sports. I want to develop a visualization test that will gauge the visualization ability of sportsmen and women and predict how well they will perform over a period of time,” Sukumar said.

The Wonderlic test is used extensively in the NFL to predict how new players might perform. Sukumar would approach his test differently, incorporating dynamic attributes which will have the ability to measure an athlete’s visualization.

“Spatial ability is important in sports. In football, for example, the quarterback needs to know where the defensive players are going to end up on the field,” Sukumar said. “Depending on how quickly he can see that based on the players’ movement, the outcome of the play could be good or bad.”

Because of his funding assistance, Sukumar can easily visualize his academic future. He plans to continue his studies in the College of Technology Ph.D. program after he finishes his master’s degree in December.

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