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Holberton doubles down on its Machine Learning program

While developing the tools and programs for education in the 21st century, we constantly challenge ourselves to look into the future of our society as well as the future of the job market. We are now at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution, which is the convergence of many disruptive technologies. One of them is Machine Learning.

Machine learning has been able to revolutionize so many fields, ranging from medicine to social media, to food, to security. And this trend has accelerated with COVID-19. While yesterday, every company had to become a digital company to survive, tomorrow they will have to become machine learning companies. Already, on LinkedIn alone, you can find more than 60,000 machine learning jobs open in the US. Many are companies that you would expect to find, like Twitter or Tik Tok, but more and more non-traditional tech companies are investing in machine learning and recruiting machine learning engineers: even companies like McDonald’s. According to LinkedIn, machine learning has created one of the biggest employment opportunities of 2021. Machine learning hiring since 2019 is up by 32%.

But while many alternative educational institutions, both online and offline, have done a great job at opening the doors to programming, 99% of machine learning hires have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The field of machine learning is still not accessible to most aspirants, and it suffers from a huge lack of diversity that has already sparked many ethical controversies. The machine-learning community needs more diversity in the field. They are creating our future and we want that future to reflect the values and attitudes of everyone.

Very early on, we introduced a machine learning curriculum to our Holberton School students. Since then, we have constantly improved our curriculum and tools in order to offer the best machine learning education possible. The initial version of our curriculum was led by Alexa Orrico and our community of advisors from Silicon Valley and beyond.

Machine learning is not as easy as learning a new programming language. To learn machine learning to a depth of understanding required by industry, students need to study mathematics, programming, and machine learning itself, which is actually itself a collection of many sub-categories. Learning everything at the same time was a big challenge for our first students, and from that experience and thanks to their feedback, we now have improved both the program and the tools for both partners and students.

Starting a few weeks ago, a new Machine Learning & Mathematics team joined us to build on the great curriculum Alexa started, and better support machine learning students at Holberton.

Today, I’d like to officially welcome the new Machine Learning & Mathematics team: Florian Bolgar, Fares Nadjar, Myriam Azzouz, Oumaima Merhbene. The team will be led by Mohamed Amine Ben Amor.

Oleksandra Fedorova from Google and Greggory Renard from xBrain and The Frontier Development Lab (an applied research accelerator based at NASA ARC and the SETI Institute), will act as working advisors to make sure the curriculum is of the highest quality and meets industry needs.

In addition, and because machine learning is by far the hardest Holberton School specialization, we are now offering more support and more live sessions to our Holberton Schools students. For each project:

  • At mid project, we have a live session of up to 3 hours focusing on theory, Mathematics and resources
  • At the end of the project, PLD will become:
    • Live coding session of up to two hours
    • Live support on Slack for any questions during the rest of the PLD days

Because our partners’ schools spans over many time zones, we have also doubled all these live sessions:

  • One for the EMEA
  • One for the Americas

Finally, we will also organize regular events (fireside chat most of the time) with machine learning professionals from around the world.

Please find a few words about the new ML & Math team:

Mohamed Amine Ben Amor – team ML lead

Amine owns a PhD in Mathematics. He used to be the director of the Mathematics department of the Tunisian campus of the University Paris Dauphine for almost 5 years and is now both assistant master at France National Education as well as campus director of Holberton Tunis. 

Before that, Amine was an entrepreneur for 6 years, using Mathematics to help companies.

Amine has 10 publications in ML and Mathematics under his belt, and 2 more to be released this year.

Amine is a former student from Ecole Polytechnique. One of the best engineering schools in the world. He also has several distinctions.

Florian Bolgar – Senior

Florian owns a PhD in Astrophysics. He has been teaching Mathematics since 2013 and is currently working as ML expert in France. He also is also fluent in Python and Django and has been doing freelance work as a software engineer since early 2019.

Florian owns a “few” degrees from the best French universities:

  • PhD in Astrophysics from University Pierre et Marie Curie
  • Master in Physics from École Normale Supérieure (one of the best university in the world)
  • Master in Astrophysics from University Paris Diderot
  • Aggregation in Mathematics from École Normale Supérieure
  • Bachelor in Physics from École Normale Supérieure

Fares Nadjar – Senior

Fares has a triple competency as actuary (an actuary is a professional using probability and statistics in the fields of finance and insurance), data scientist, and software engineer.

He owns a:

  • Master in Computer Science and Intelligent Systems from University Paris Dauphine
  • Master in Actuary from University Paris Dauphine
  • Bachelor in Mathematic and Computer Science 

Myriam Azzouz – Tutor

Myriam just graduated From Paris Dauphine PSL university where she earned:

  • A Master in Artificial Intelligence, Systems and Data. This master is co-accredited by 

University Paris Dauphine, École Normale Supérieure of Paris and Mines ParisTech

  • A Master in Big Data
  • A Bachelor in Applied Mathematics

Myriam was mentored by Professor Tristan Cazenave. 

Myriam applied her skills in ML as a Machine Learning Engineer Intern in different companies, including Criteo, Equinor, Sagemcom. During her last internship in London (UK) she built an automated pipeline and deployed models to help people and companies extract insights from their data. 

Myriam is also volunteering, helping kids to better learn and love Mathematics.

Oumaima Merhbene – Tutor

Oumaima also graduated From Paris Dauphine PSL university where she earned:

  • A Master in Artificial Intelligence, Systems and Data. This master is co-accredited by 

University Paris Dauphine, École Normale Supérieure of Paris and Mines ParisTech

  • A Master in Big Data
  • A Bachelor in Applied Mathematics

She spent her last 6 months at the LAMSADE research laboratory (Decision Support, Operational Research, Business Intelligence, Decision Theory and Artificial Intelligence) at CNRS / Paris-Dauphine where she was supervised by both Tristan Cazenave and Florian Sikora. During this internship, she used a combination of Monte Carlo Tree Search and Deep Learning Techniques to solve graph optimisation problems. Her publication will be soon released at the Monte Carlo Search workshop. 

She also had a 3-month internship at the Pasteur Institute research laboratory, where she worked on predicting new drug-disease associations using Neural Networks (autoencoder) to identify potential new usages for existing drugs. 

About Tristan Cazenave

Tristan Cazenave is one of the most famous Machine Learning specialists. He wrote 225 papers on Machine Learning. With Bruno Bouzy, Tristan Cazenave invented the best approach to Computer Go. In 2005, He wrote a Monte-Carlo based Phantom Go program competitive with human Go players. An improved version won gold medals at the 2007, 2008 and 2009 computer Olympiads.

About Florian Sikora

Florian Sikora is interested in “Hard Problems”. He is working on Graph theory and Machine Learning solving methods on them. He wrote several softwares and several research papers. He is also Associate Professor at The Paris Dauphine University (1st French university).

Oleksandra Fedorova – advisor

Oleksandra is an ML software engineer at Google, in Sunnyvale (CA) where she works on the Dialogflow project (Natural Language Processing made easy for developers).

Previously Sasha attended school 42 in Silicon Valley where she was also an AI technical coordinator, after which she worked in different startups applying her skill as ML and full-stack software engineer before joining Google.

Gregory Renard – senior advisor

Greg is a star in the world of ML. He is an investor and an advisor at Holberton, Inc, and had talked to students many times in the past. His resume is super impressive:

  • Chief AI officer and head of applied Machine Learning and Deep Learning at xBrain (think Siri for cars) in Menlo Park (CA), since 10+ years
  • He is also on the committee and ML lead at the Frontier Development Lab, co-created by the NASA and the SETI, since 2016
  • Greg is an AI advisor for the French and Belgium governments

Recently, Greg also volunteered with the office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, where he – with the help of two other Machine Learning specialists – trained an NLP hybrid model in order to help the administration to look for relevant information in the research papers and on the web. Daily, they are issuing a quantitative report and periodically a qualitative report of the publications on the COVID-19 cure. They automated semantic collection and analysis of nearly 5 million VIDOC-19 related items per day (representing more than 1 To raw data text per 3 weeks).

In addition to Holberton’s staff, Coderise, our partner in Colombia also has recruited ML specialists who will be available to help students in Colombia:

  • Mario Morales, Senior Research Scientist and MsC and Associate Faculty in Columbia University
  • Robrecht Jurriaans, CTO at Bomberbot and MSc in Artificial Intelligence from University of Amsterdam 
  • Cristian Garcia, Software Developer (Machine Learning) at Quansight

Machine learning has so much potential, and it’s so important to create more ways for students to learn about it. I am beyond excited to have such an awesome team joining us to continue improving our ML program. In combination with our OS of Education, our Holberton School partners have also been able to offer the ML specialization as a stand-alone to developers around the world, but also, universities are now able to offer our ML projects to their students. With this new tool under their belt, our students will be able to create a better future for everyone. I can’t wait to see what they will create!