Wednesday October 28, 2020

'Ireland’s future is very bright with fantastic indigenous industry in the AI space but also good involvement from multinationals'

Pepijn van de Ven, Senior Lecturer in the department of Electronic & Computer Engineering at the University of Limerick, on how AI will shape the future of Ireland’s industry

5th February, 2019
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What's your name?

Pepijn van de Ven.

What’s your current job?

Senior Lecturer in the department of Electronic & Computer Engineering at the University of Limerick

How long have you held the position?

I very recently changed roles and moved from Senior Research Fellow to Senior Lecturer.

Can you describe your daily work routine?

My daily routine is an interesting mix of teaching, research and management. As a Senior Lecturer I now teach two modules, but I am also still involved in a large trial being conducted in Brazil. I am responsible for the technology that supports the delivery of a depression intervention and the collection of data. Machine learning is one of the common denominators in my teaching and research with interesting applications in both areas. A really interesting part of my daily routine is that the delivery of our new Masters in AI is fully online. This meant a huge paradigm shift in terms of the techniques used in delivery of the content and this has significantly changed my daily routine. The traditional interaction with students across about four hours per week is now spread out far more evenly throughout the week. This is great for our students as they have more flexibility in planning their work for the masters in their already busy lives.

What is your professional background?

I am an electronic engineer but have moved away from electronics. After a few years in corporate research with the Philips Research labs (in the Netherlands) I moved to Ireland to do a PhD around the application of AI to the control of underwater vehicles. After my PhD I moved into the exciting area of health where AI is playing an ever increasing role.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I am married to a lovely Irish girl and we have two kids. I speak Dutch to our kids and even though they refuse to return the favour most of the time, it is very interesting to see aspects of natural learning at play, some of which you can also find in machine learning.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I am generally very open and I can’t think of anything that very few people know about me. And if there is, that is probably for the best!

You are speaking at the forthcoming AI and Machine Learning Summit in Croke Park. What is the focus of your talk?

The talk will be mainly about the new Masters in AI programme, the exciting opportunities for Ireland and the exciting new way of delivery that is specifically appealing to professionals working in Irish industry and hoping to up-skill whilst in full-time employment.

How do you think AI will shape the future of Ireland’s industry over the coming 5 years?

Ireland’s future is very bright with fantastic indigenous industry in the AI space but also good involvement from multinationals. The role AI plays, will undoubtedly become ever more important and to what extent we make this an opportunity for Ireland’s industry, is entirely up to us. I would think this is exactly why Skillnet took the initiative for an online Masters in AI for those working in Irish industry. In 5 years’ time I expect we will have significantly grown the Irish base of AI practitioners with a thorough understanding of the area and this may well attract further AI activity to Ireland.

Can you comment on whether you think Ireland’s workforce has the right kind of skillsets to enable the future workforce to deal with the oncoming fifth revolution?

The Irish workforce is highly educated and dynamic. I am confident that programmes such as the new online Masters in AI, but also the strategic funding in this area, will enable our workforce not just to deal with the fifth revolution, but to play a crucial role in this revolution.

Pepijn van de Ven is speaking at the AI and Machine Learning Summit in Croke Park on March 6th. Full details are available at aisummit.ie

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