Yazeed Alaudah and Miguel Serrano make up Airbus Aerial’s Machine Learning (ML) team. Yazeed is a Jr. ML engineering intern with us for the summer. He will return to Georgia Tech in the fall, where he is a fifth year Ph.D candidate studying ML, image processing, and computer vision. Miguel works at Aerial full-time, but is also a Ph.D candidate in Machine Learning. They sit down with me to discuss their research, working at Aerial, and whether free time exists for Ph.D candidates.

The ML team’s duties consist of applying ML algorithms to applications relating to building protection, CAT (catastrophe) response, and assessment of building damage. They also define solutions relating to ML-based analytics that are geared towards solving problems presented by clients or other team members, e.g. software architects, product managers, and business developers. Miguel says that he was excited to bring in a new team member who “speaks his language.” His and Yazeed’s skills seem to balance out their differences in personality. Miguel is as bold and upfront in his intelligence as he is in his love for playing Settlers of Catan; he swears that Yazeed doesn’t give himself enough credit. But Yazeed strikes me as calm rather than quiet, easily secure in his intelligence and experiences.

Before beginning his Ph.D, Miguel worked as an electrical engineer. He received his B.S. and M.S. in the subject, from Florida International University and Georgia Tech. He was also the principal consultant for his company, Noteworthy Solutions. “It was initially named Subpar Solutions, but my friends thought it was too negative, even though anyone who plays golf knows that you want to be subpar.” Yazeed also holds and B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering, and previously worked as an intern at Panasonic Automotive and MERL, working with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, detecting and tracking human facial landmarks in real time.

Both men became interested in Ph.D programs because of the freedom it afforded them to explore more of their concentration. “A Ph.D is more guided by the community, through peer reviews, the literature you’re asked to read and your supervisor’s influence.” Miguel says. “Working at a company is a much more tailored education.” Yazeed says that he’s been able to solve problems with more creativity, and even learned different types of software.

“You have the freedom to choose a problem and really focus on it.”

When it comes to working at a startup, freedom is a recurring perk. Yazeed says that he is not only encouraged to work on a variety of projects, but there is “more control over your own work, and you are allowed to solve problems in your own way.” Miguel appreciates that Aerial has the liberties of a startup, and the power of a large company. “You have room to develop algorithms as you please, and getting the tech you need to complete work is easier than it may be at larger organizations. ”

Both Yazeed and Miguel admit that their schedules are packed between work and school, leaving little room for outside activities. Yazeed became a father less than a month ago, but still goes to the gym and travels for conferences related to his Ph.D program. His most memorable trip to date was Austria. He also looks forward to summer internships, which allow him to work on exciting projects. Miguel plays plenty of video games, practices muay thai, and has most recently traveled to Japan for a conference.

Yazeed and Miguel possess extensive experience in Machine Learning and electrical engineering. Working at Aerial has fostered their inventiveness, and allowed them both to take the lead when solving problems. Their pursuit of Ph.Ds reveals the creativity and determination required for them to succeed professionally  and aid Aerial in developing new technology.


by Chisom Awachie


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