Software Engineer Nivethika Mahasivam

Nivethika Mahasivam (31) joined The Hyve’s RADAR-base team in October 2016. In the past years, Nivethika not only contributed to the development of the wearables platform, she was also actively involved in efforts to advocate the platform to potential users. With good results: the RADAR-base community is growing and the number of studies that make use of the platform is increasing. Both in her work and in her leisure time, Nivethika likes to learn new things. Painting especially gets her creative juices flowing.

Can you tell me about your background?­­­

I did my Bachelor in Computer Engineering at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. After I graduated, I started working with a small team that was outsourced to a US company and developed software applications for the judicial sector. I learned a lot of new technologies there, but couldn’t get the full industrial experience: working onsite and being part of the company itself. Later, I joined Cambio Software Engineering, a Sri-Lankan and Swedish based e-health company. I worked on an electronic healthcare system (EHR) called Cosmic, particularly on modules related to birth, medical record table and digital dictation. I really enjoyed working at Cambio. The company culture was really nice and I learned a lot. I got acquainted with the whole software cycle and gained experience with the Agile methodology.

At the same time, I tried to obtain a scholarship as I always had the wish to continue my studies. Eventually, I got an Erasmus Mundus scholarship for an interdisciplinary and international Master at three universities. That was a great opportunity for me, so I left Cambio and went for my Master’s. First, I studied in Stuttgart in Germany, then at the University of Crete. Both in Crete and Germany I learned more about service-oriented architecture (SOA) and we majored in computer science. The third semester, at the University of Tilburg, focussed more on information management, business process management, et cetera. Not only did I learn a lot on different disciplines, I also got to study with people from almost all over the world. It was really a very nice experience.

After the third semester, we had to do an internship and write a thesis. For this I went to Norway, as I got an opportunity from SINTEF in Oslo. SINTEF is one of the largest independent research institutes in Scandinavia. I wrote my thesis about scalable data preparation systems where you do interactive data cleaning and you prepare the data for analysis and semantic modelling.

How did you get to know The Hyve?

I have a great affinity towards research and always wanted to be in the research field and do a PhD. But by the time I finished my Master’s, I wasn’t sure if I could live in Europe for another four years or so. For this reason, I wanted the commitment to be a bit flexible. So I was looking for an opportunity where I could work for a company while keeping the affiliation with research groups like SINTEF.

During my last months at the research institute, I saw a job offer from The Hyve on Stack Overflow. They were looking for a software engineer to join their RADAR-CNS team. The job description really interested me. The fact that they were going to build a research platform from scratch and that it was an international project with many partners. It was exactly what I was looking for, so I applied, got the job and moved back to the Netherlands.

What do you do at The Hyve?

As a software engineer, I do full-stack development. I’ve worked both on the RADAR-base back-end and front-end design, development and deployment. In the past two years, I’ve also been promoting the RADAR-base platform: working on blog posts, attending events, documenting and sharing its capabilities, setting up an online demo, talking with researchers about how they can use the platform. I just want to make sure that the people who are looking for this type of solution find out about RADAR-base.

Quisper is another project that I’m involved with. It’s a digital platform that connects personalized nutrition services. I joined the project in 2018 and mainly take care of the technical development of the platform.

What do you like about working at The Hyve?

I like that the company is so international. The culture is informal and friendly and the people are very approachable. At first, I found it quite hard to adapt to a new culture but soon found I could easily integrate into the company and the RADAR-base team.

I like that all our projects serve a greater cause in the sense that health care providers and patients benefit from them. It’s also nice and interesting to hear colleagues talk about the different projects they’re involved with, the solutions they’re trying to provide and the questions they’re trying to answer in the area of the life sciences.

Nivethika talking about RADAR-base at the Annual Meeting RADAR-CNS 2019

Can you mention any exciting developments in your field?

I’m excited to see that RADAR-base has gained visibility in the research field. Many universities are currently using it and a sister project of RADAR-CNS called RADAR-AD has started that will reuse a lot of RADAR-base’s features. But we would like to see the platform being used for an even wider range of use cases. There are also many other use-cases where RADAR-base is being used and supporting those initiatives are really exciting. We would like to organize an event where the RADAR-base community can present the projects they are working on and share their experiences about the platform. I am looking forward to that.

What do you like to do when you're 'off-duty'?

This is a difficult question as I have a lot of hobbies. I have a very broad interest and I like to explore new things. Anything creative is really up my street, so I do photography, painting, handicrafts and things like that. I try to focus on painting now, whenever I can find the time.

During the weekends, I spend a lot of time catching up with my family: my parents and three siblings, who are living all over the world.

Also, I travel a lot, go cycling and hiking as I’m really into nature.

A painting by Nivethika in her free time