Approaching Deep Learning From a New Perspective

Master of Engineering Management (MEM) students are providing valuable assistance to Northwestern Engineering's Center for Deep Learning.

This past September, Northwestern Engineering created the Center for Deep Learning (CDL) with the goal of being a resource for companies without sufficient knowledge of artificial intelligence by providing expertise, technical capacity, training, and proof of concept project applications.

Soon after the launch, students in the school's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program received an email from Mark Werwath, director of the MEM program and associate director of the CDL. Werwath was looking for students who wanted to assist the CDL with literature reviews. The project would be at the intersection of engineering and management — the perfect opportunity for MEM students. The project was not going to be affiliated with any class, but the learning opportunities would be significant.

Urvi Thakkar was one of the MEM students who responded to the email.

"The lab was looking for students who would be able to help by doing peer surveys and literature surveys looking at similar initiatives across the landscape and developing a comparative analysis," Thakkar said.

Thakkar is working with two other MEM students to perform the literature review for the CDL. The focus is on the use of emerging technologies across a variety of fields, such as finance or healthcare and operations. Part of the review process for the students includes understanding how these technologies are internally judged or benchmarked.

"The literature survey is intended to give students and the CDL a sense of what technologies have been aligned with a variety of applications and get a sense of where industry stands with applications of deep learning," Werwath said. "The literature survey is a form of landscape analysis that gives the CDL and the students a sense of what is state-of-the-art, who are the players and what are the current applications being pursued."

Although the project does not directly relate to work Thakkar is studying in MEM, it is giving her opportunities to expand on her technical skills, which is the main reason she came to MEM in the first place.

"MEM allows us to explore a variety of domains and career paths," Thakkar said. "The CDL experience has given me the opportunity to explore the latest technologies from a literature standpoint. It's also given me room to understand how these technologies can be used to improve user experience and solve some of the more rigid and fundamental issues facing mankind."