#GradStories James Fitzpatrick, Machine Learning Engineer, Axial3D (Career Boost Programme)
What is your name, job and employer?
My name is James Fitzpatrick and I'm a Machine Learning Engineer in Axial 3D.
What does your current role involve?
The basis of the work comes down to giving the algorithm a bunch of images and a bunch of examples. These images might be images of a medical scan and we might want to ask our algorithm to identify something in it and by giving it a bunch of examples of what we want it to see and what we want it to give us. We can eventually train it to do something that we can do very well but computers can’t, but we can get that computer to do it very quickly.
What are the main tasks you do in your job in a normal week?
I am a Machine Learning Engineer which is kind of like a cross between a researcher and a software engineer. I have to do the software engineer role and I also have to play the researcher role. One of the things that I spend a lot my time doing is producing high quality code or at least what I consider to be high quality code. A lot of the work that we do for our algorithms comes from papers which might even published two or three months beforehand or possibly even more recent than that and it's quite exciting to be part of that and also I've got the chance to contribute to that as well and also talk to some of the people who've been working in that field both as experts and people who are fresh to it like I am.
What skills do you need to be successful in your role?
The skills boil down to a couple of main ones that interact with each other for a couple of reasons. The ability to communicate, to think abstractly and to break your problems into smaller tasks. The reason for those is mostly because especially as part of a team you're never going to do software development or machine learning research independently, and if you do you're not going to get very far.
What do you love about your job?
Quite a lot my time will be sitting behind a screen reading papers. Once I fully have a grasp of it and once I have results from my experiments we tend to focus on sharing those so I get a chance to not only tell everybody about why my results are the way they are and why they're cool, I also get to mentor other people and show them and get them to understand that their cool too and then eventually we have this company-wide appreciation that the work that we do is cool.
What did you do as a student that helps you most in your career?
One thing that I spent quite a bit of time doing outside of college was participation in things like Kaggle competitions. That gave me a chance to get to grips with data and messy data that I could perform machine learning on and it also gave me a chance to develop my programming skills which I might not have had much of a chance to develop as part of my formal curriculum.
What was your career break?
Originally, I got an email and it said we've got this cool job offer which is exactly what you want to do, and it was in AI. I had no idea what the InterTradeIreland Fusion programme was, and I applied through the website which was the same as many of the websites that I'd seen before. I found out that not only do I get to do this job I also get the opportunity to work with an academic supervisor in UCD and as part of that I get to do a business management course in Queens University as well.