Blog

Life at ML6: A Machine Learning Engineer’s Perspective

24 August 2019, 11:33

Hello, my name is Juta and I am a Machine Learning Engineer at ML6. I have worked here for two years, which might not be an eternity, but it is long enough to ask myself why I choose for ML6 day after day. The first advantage of a job is of course remuneration, but that’s not all I am looking for in a job. Here are five other reasons why I love my job.

Interesting and Challenging Projects

ML6’s mission is to empower leading businesses with intelligent technology. But rather than talking about our vision, I’d like to talk about my day to day job. Since the beginning I’ve had the chance to work on many different interesting projects: we have projects spanning over two years, but also projects that last 3 months or even 2 weeks. I’ve become quite the expert in the latter. From recommendation engines to video classification, it’s amazing what one can learn and achieve in just a couple of weeks but it is also nice to go through with a longer project and really see the impact on the business that your work delivered.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite (non-secret) projects. In 2018 I did my first project around object detection for Eandis (now called Fluvius), the Flemish energy distribution system operator. In a couple of weeks we built an interface where you could upload a picture of your gas installation and it would output the different components used in your installation. I really liked this project because it was an end to end project with great results. I also liked the coding work behind it combining Python, TensorFlow and Javascript and don’t forget the necessary Github cloning of course.

Eandis gas installation component detection example

Another project I am proud of is the fact that I am an Apache Beam contributor. Together with my colleagues and employees from Google, I worked on porting Apache Beam to Python 3. I liked the fact that I was contributing to an open source library that we also use a lot internally and I learned a lot by contributing to a big code base which I found very challenging.

Autonomy

At ML6 you are working independently and are responsible for your own projects. There is no micro managing. I always have a say in how we are building a solution and which technology or architecture is the best fit for it. I can also take initiative if I want to be involved in a certain project. I really like this flexibility and autonomy on the job.

One thing you should know is that as an ML Engineer at ML6 you are not only responsible for designing and implementing machine learning models, depending of my role in a project I will also find myself handling data ingestion, data preprocessing, designing data architectures and setting up scalable deployments on Google Cloud. It is up to me and my team to decide who is the best person for the job.

Aside from my day to day tasks, I can also take up some side responsibilities such as recruiting, organizing team events or being responsible to organize trainings. I chose to be involved in organizing team events but more about this later.

Personal Growth

I feel that at ML6 there is a big focus on your internal growth as a person. I have a mentor, with whom I can discuss my position at the company and how I want to grow: what new responsibilities I want to take up, or how I can learn more technical or soft skills. Not only can you discuss this with your mentor, but my colleagues are also involved in how I can grow in my career by providing me with feedback and by pointing out my strengths.

As I worked on multiple projects, I really learned a lot of different skills in a short time. Over time this allowed me to define my own area of expertise: computer vision. This way I chose what kind of projects I want to work on and learn more about and we also share this knowledge among each other by giving talks about our own expertise. This way I don’t only learn about my own area of interest by doing research for my talk, but I also get the chance to learn a lot about other interesting topics I might need one day.

Super secret internal knowledge sharing at our quarterly chapter conference

Team Spirit

I mentioned earlier that I am responsible for my own projects at ML6 but that doesn’t mean that I have to face my problems alone. We are divided in smaller teams of engineers in such way that we can easily share knowledge about our projects and help each other out when necessary. As we try to do our work mostly from the office, there is always someone around for a quick brainstorm or a helpful chat.

Aside from the smaller teams, we also have weekly team meetings where we share what’s happening in the company. It’s interesting to know what’s happening commercially but it also gives a clear overview of who is working on what. We have a strong team spirit and this creates a really nice work environment.

Team Events

Last but not least, what is really great about ML6: the team events. As I am one of the organizers, I can’t say anything bad about them: weekly sports activities, monthly beer nights at the pub, team days, movie nights, LAN parties, museum nights, hummus cooking workshops and cleaning the canals in Amsterdam. I think everyone can find something that they like in the activities we do. All of them are a lot of fun and it is nice to share some moments outside of work with your colleagues and to get to know each other better.

Aside from the smaller teams, we also have weekly team meetings where we share what’s happening in the company. It’s interesting to know what’s happening commercially but it also gives a clear overview of who is working on what. We have a strong team spirit and this creates a really nice work environment.

Greetings from our team day in Knokke!