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Carving Out a New Career Path with AIAP

Resigning from a stable job in a reputable MNC and jumping into the unknown is always a risky proposition. But it was a chance that Mohamed Hanifa was willing to take, for the opportunity to immerse himself in the field of machine learning (ML).

A computer engineering graduate from Nanyang Technological University, Hanifa was working as a marketing data scientist with Palo Alto Networks for a year when the AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) beckoned.

 

At Palo Alto Networks, he was responsible for campaign targeting, generating business insights, and gathering requirements from fellow field marketeers to build various data products.

Before that, while working as a data engineer/analyst at LynxAnalytics, he was responsible for deploying various ML systems as well as data pipelines.

However, the models he worked with were mostly developed by his colleagues. “I was not able to understand how they worked under the hood,” said Hanifa.

This nagged at him. Besides having a natural curiosity about data models, he also wanted to learn more about them so that he could troubleshoot whenever there were issues with the inferencing engine or model deployment.

He tried to read up what he could on the topic, diving into books like “An Introduction to Statistical Learning” and completing a Coursera programme on data science. But, he felt, “theoretical knowledge won’t amount to much without practical real-world experience. I felt a full-time programme would be the best way to completely immerse myself in the ML field.”

When Hanifa heard about AIAP and the opportunity it offered for apprentices to design and deploy ML models in a commercial setting, he decided to go for it, quitting his job at Palo Alto Networks to join the full-time programme.

Over the next nine months, he sharpened his technical skills, especially in coding deep-learning frameworks using Python. His engineering background and earlier self-learning efforts helped in this respect.

“Having some technical knowledge like understanding basic programming constructs and AI in general are important skillsets to have even before you start on AIAP. It provides the foundation for building up your AI/ML skills.”

Hanifa

During the apprenticeship programme, he also had the opportunity to work on a natural language processing project, building a model to answer common questions raised by an IT ticketing system. The aim was to free up the IT team to focus their attention on more complex or unusual problems.

His work on the project enabled him to develop soft skills as well, such as the importance of managing clients’ expectations and guiding them wherever necessary to achieve the best outcome.

Before he graduated from AIAP in August 2019, Hanifa secured a job as data science consultant with ST Engineering’s newly-created Analytics Business Unit, thanks to an opportunity that came up during a career workshop organised by AI Singapore.

In this new role, Hanifa was involved in building models for various solutions. The Python coding skills which he honed during AIAP helped him substantially in this aspect of the job, he said.

With the AI knowledge and skills developed through his apprenticeship, he was also able to contribute to various other initiatives within the organisation where AI expertise was required.

“Even though our projects have an AI component, our solutions are developed from end-to-end – from infrastructure to model deployment,” explained Hanifa. “Therefore, we not only have to choose the best performing model but also the one which can be deployed with ease.”

“These experiences have given me a wider exposure which would not otherwise be possible,” said Hanifa, who was recently promoted to assistant data science manager and is looking forward to doing more AI solutioning or consultancy work in the near future. “AIAP definitely played a major part in helping to carve out this new career path,” he said.

AISG Partners with Google Cloud to Advance Singapore’s AI ecosystem

AISG has partnered with Google Cloud to advance the adoption of AI and Machine Learning (ML) across industries in Singapore. This collaboration will have AI Singapore’s award-winning AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP)®, 100 Experiments (100E) and Makerspace programmes leverage Google Cloud AI and Machine Learning to solve real-world business problems with AI.

“Our partnership with Google Cloud will see both teams working on interesting industry projects, talent development and AI/ML best practices,” said Laurence Liew, Director of AI Innovation for AISG. “This collaboration will allow our teams to tap on Google Cloud’s engineering team and resources to improve our talent programmes, gain access to best-in-class AI tools, and AI/ML best practices.”

Companies will have the opportunity to approach AI Singapore to have engineers work to develop minimal viable products using Google Cloud’s technology under the 100E and Makerspace programmes. To date, AISG has helped to deploy more than 30 AI projects for the industry and built AI tools and solutions such as the world’s most popular open source RPA tool – TagUI – which has more than 70,000 downloads and 4000 stars on Github.

Oceans.ai and Genesis Gym in Singapore are two examples of organizations who are working together with AISG to implement AI-based solutions with Google Cloud tools:

Oceans.ai looked to 100E for a solution to develop an AI-based asset inspection solution for industrial applications to conduct first-level defect detections in certain environments and contexts, such as on offshore oil and gas platforms. Google Cloud tools including Firebase, Cloud Run, and Cloud Storage enabled oceans.ai to accelerate the development of this AI engine, and they are expecting the AI engine to be implemented by end-2021.

“AI Singapore and Google Cloud have been valuable partners in our development of an AI-powered asset inspection solution. The team’s innovative thinking, willingness to try new methods, out-of-the-box thinking and quick deployment have been a great help in advancing our goal to build an autonomous AI engine that can streamline our detection processes and reduce manual manpower and improve the accuracy and efficiency of inspection and reporting. With full deployment targeted for the end of this year, we are looking forward to seeing where this solution will take us, and are hopeful that together with AISG and Google Cloud, we are on the right track to be the gamechangers in the Energy and Renewables industry.“
Vinod Govindan
Founder and Managing Director, oceans.ai

Facing rising demand for customised online fitness services, Genesis Gym turned to AISG and GCP to scale up their AI capabilities and computing resources to cater to online gym-goers. Genesis Gym is working to utilise Google Cloud’s AI tools for computer vision and pose estimation, to assist users in their movement errors and provide coaching tips catered
to their specific needs.

“Providing quick and effective feedback to our clients is at the core of what we do at Genesis Gym. Following the rise of online classes, this process became increasingly challenging, which encouraged us to connect with AI Singapore’s 100E projects to find a solution. Together with AI Singapore and Google Cloud, we are working to create an easily scalable AI model that would allow us to continue in our mission in providing personalised services to our clients online, and are hopeful that we will be able to develop an automated process that adds value to their customised fitness experiences.”
Jonathan Wong, Company Director
Genesis Gym

Paul Wilson, Managing Director for Public Sector, Google Cloud Asia Pacific, said, “AI and machine learning are the next frontier of the digital age, and cloud technologies hold the keys to data-driven solutions that are in demand today. The partnership with AI Singapore sees us working jointly to
spearhead new applications of Cloud AI to fundamentally change business models and advance innovation in Singapore. In doing so, we hope to play a role in sustaining the nation’s national competitiveness, and transforming Singapore into a global hub for AI solutions.”

 

The next intake for the AI Apprenticeship Programme starts in September 2021. 

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