NEW 3-Week Python for Beginners Course Starts July 27! View Course

Demystifying Data Science: Grad Works On Cutting-Edge Self-Driving Car Technology

By Metis  • July 24, 2017



This post was written by George McIntire, a graduate of the Metis Data Science Bootcamp, former freelance journalist, and current Data Science Instructional Associate at General Assembly.
_____

Self-driving cars, once only existent in the realm of science fiction, edge closer to reality with each passing day. Data scientists like Galen Ballew, a graduate of the first Metis bootcamp in Chicago, are working day in and day out to make it so.

Now a Data Architect at HERE, based in Boulder, Colorado, Ballew works on the Highly Automated Driving Machine Learning (HAD ML) Services platform as part of the Sensing and Perception team. He helped develop and continues to maintain the platform, which allows data scientists to publish their models, training and testing images, and labels so other scientists can use them.

“My role is part software engineer and part support,” said Ballew. “I work closely with research and data scientists who develop cutting edge deep neural networks for image segmentation and classification in self-driving cars.”

The company is preparing to launch a feature allowing models to be trained on the service, meaning that scientists will be able to train bigger models on more data and all of the computation will occur on scalable, serverless architecture in the cloud. In addition to this excitement, Ballew loves the new HERE location in Boulder – and it's about to get even better. They'll soon be sharing a facility with a new team from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and possibly BMW.

"Working closely with the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)...means that our solutions will be that much more viable," he said. "We will be able to understand what tools, sensors, and data are being used from start to finish and build our solution accordingly.”

Though he doesn’t currently “work with the nitty gritty of machine learning,” as he puts it, learning and understanding the expansive topic while at Metis student has helped immensely with in-house communication on the job. 

“It is important for my role to understand data science lingo and to be able to speak the language. If I can't understand the goals of my coworkers, then I can't help them. Having this fundamental understanding of machine learning and data science was a key factor in my getting the job and being successful in it,” he said.

Another key factor in his landing this role? His final project at Metis. Ballew’s capstone project was about…you guessed it…self-driving cars! He built a traditional computer vision solution for self-driving cars and trained a deep neural network for vehicle detection.

“My final project was a huge boon to finding my job at HERE,” he said. “This project is almost exactly what HERE is doing, except that they have a lot more money and Ph.D.’s than I do. Being able to demonstrate my passion and hard work to the hiring manager was a huge factor in receiving the offer.”

Prior to Metis, Ballew studied both math and art in college, perhaps a seemingly inharmonious combination at face value. But it’s the mix of the two that drew him to data science and continues to inspire his work.   

“To me, data science is a mix of mathematics and art,” he said. “While I work on quantitative problems and get to code on a regular basis, I have a tremendous amount of creative license in the approach and communication about the solution.”
_____

Interested in learning more about the Metis Data Science Bootcamp? Check it out!


Similar Posts

alumni
Made at Metis: Street Art to Fine Art; Building a Recommendation System

By Metis • May 26, 2020

This post features two projects from recent graduates of our data science bootcamp. Take a look at what's possible to create in just 12 weeks, including a project to leverage a user’s existing street art preferences to recommend visually-similar fine art and a project to develop a collaborative filtering recommendation system using sales transaction data.

alumni
Infographic: Metis Bootcamp Alumni By The Numbers

By Metis • March 26, 2020

In this infographic, we break down a data set that’s near and dear to our hearts: one that represents our Data Science Bootcamp alumni. Find out where our grads are working and within what industries, where many of them call home across the United States and the world, what they studied pre-bootcamp, and much more.

alumni
A Hunger for Data Leads Grad to Role at HelloFresh

By Emily Wilson • June 23, 2020

If you’re not hungry already, you’ll probably be ready to eat by the end of this post. Bootcamp graduate Amy Su works as the Sr. Analyst of Product Operations at HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery service known for all-natural, easy-to-prepare recipes. In addition to catching up with her to discuss her role at the data-driven company, we also talked about the joys of working with food-related data all day.