Current position: Co-founder & Product Lead
Employer: Aiir Innovations
Master’s programme: Artificial Intelligence (core course: Computer Vision)
I chose the University of Amsterdam because it was the highest regarded and most technical Artificial Intelligence (AI) Master’s programme in the Netherlands. On top of that, I had followed a course in computer vision during my Bachelor’s degree and the possibilities of applying computer vision to different fields appealed to me greatly.
I liked the fact that there were lots of practical assignments at the UvA. Not only did you learn about theory, you learned how to apply it. That is how I learn best. In addition to that, the programme is quite free. There are lots of options regarding projects and assignments. Later in the course, we had a very practical curriculum that consisted of implementing models and empirically evaluating them. This was one of the most practical courses I took and made me realise that I wanted to apply Artificial Intelligence to solve real-world problems. It went a lot deeper than other programmes.
At the end of the first year, we had a project called ‘Project-AI’, which involved working on four-week assignments in a group. We worked on an assignment for KLM to see if we could automate jet engine boreoscope inspections. The results were very promising and KLM really wanted to buy it. It went so well that we decided to start a company specialising in automating these inspections. And we are still in business today, known as Aiir Innovations.
Being a founder of a company forces you to take on several roles. As Product Lead, I make sure we know what our users want and that it gets implemented. I love asking users about their experiences. I also train personnel to use our products and am part of our development team. Aside from these technical tasks, I am a board member. I’ve grown into my various roles by sticking to my strengths. It’s not always easy, but it’s a nice challenge!
You should never be afraid to learn. At our company, we give each other feedback in private sessions. This is scary, but sometimes necessary. If you are open to learning, you can open yourself up to constructive criticism and use that criticism to get better at your job. You cannot do everything yourself. Sometimes you lack the skills to perform a task. There is no shame in asking for help.
Find out what you want to do and do that. If you want to work for a company go for it. If you want to start your own business, go for it. Don’t limit yourself into thinking your grades aren’t high enough or that you lack specific skills. Skills can be learned.