Yashas Ambati

North Carolina School of Science and Math

School Role:


Yashas Ambati is a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Math hailing from Morrisville, NC. Upon graduating, he has goals of majoring in computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence and robotics. Yashas spends his free time watching mystery and action shows– at least when he is not busy organizing successful hackathons!

At what age did you realize you were interested in STEM? Tell us about that defining moment.

I discovered my interest at a pretty early age. I loved to break, adapt, and build things. It started in elementary school when I was first introduced to scratch, a block-based programming suite. I remember being so captivated that I built some of my elementary school projects with it!

What has been your favorite class to take in HS thus far?

Interestingly, my favorite class so far is a humanities class! I’m actually taking it right now; it’s called Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. We’re taking a deep dive into the ethical dilemmas facing policymakers today with regards to the development of artificial intelligence.

What types of TV shows/movies interest you?

I’m mostly into mystery and action shows. My all time favorites are White Collar and Avatar: The Last Airbender

In a similar vein, what are you currently binging?

I’m not currently binging anything, but I just finished watching The Umbrella Academy. I’m hoping another season will be released soon!

Are you currently reading anything?

Yes! I’m finishing up Range by David Epstein. It’s a fantastic read that I’d highly recommend. It argues that, in most domains, intellectual breadth is crucial to excelling. It directly challenges the popular 10,000-hour rule, which has made it so exciting to read.

Why do you think STEM education is important?

There’s so much to unpack here! But, if I had to pick one reason, it would be that it teaches effective problem solving. It teaches you how to approach complex, multifaceted, and often ambiguous problems. It also provides you with a toolkit of fundamentals to draw from when solving such problems.

What is your favorite part about being a student at NCSSM?

Definitely the residential experience! Although I didn’t get the full experience due to the pandemic, the time I have spent on-campus has been phenomenal. There’s something powerful about living with a group of unique, driven students. The initiatives, research, and ideas that are continuously spawned around me are truly inspirational, and have been instrumental to my own endeavors.

What are your current career goals?

I’m planning to major in computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence and robotics. After graduating, I hope to pursue a master’s degree in robotics and autonomous systems. I hope to work for companies on the cutting edge of self-driving technology like Cruise and Waymo, and perhaps start my own company in the future. I also hope to be an advocate for ethical, regulated automation.

What achievement has been the highlight of your academic career thus far?

If I had to pick, it would be organizing my school’s first fully-virtual hackathon! We had over seventy students from all over the state join us for two days of talks, workshops, and coding for social good. It was our largest hackathon to date, and I learned so much from organizing it.