I am Niyas Mohammed, from Trivandrum, India- and I have a great fast.ai story to tell
When Part 1 was originally released, I was so fascinated by the teaching style of @jeremy and @rachel that I became an evangelist almost overnight. I was on my first job at a well known consultancy, and was one of the few young engineers there desperately trying to understand deep learning. There were no real good resources to start- some were highly technical and mathy, some assumed I knew a lot.
But at the same time we knew that deep learning was definetly going to be the next big thing, and that we did not want to be on the sidelines for this. That’s when I discovered fast.ai.
So a bunch of us worked with our department managers and leads to hold an (unofficial) weekly session on deep learning. And so the Deep Learning Group (DLG) was born. Every week, we’d watch one lesson from fast.ai, work through the week by ourselves and share our experiences at the DLG weekly meeting. This was a fantastic model- people who would otherwise were hesitant to take up online courses showed up and started working together. Everyone loved being able to dip their hands into code and actually see the results. None of this was funded by our company, though. We were paying for all our EC2 compute from our own pockets.
The training offered by our company’s official learning and developement programs are workshops that last one or two days (max) usually. This was a very different, in the sense it was a regular meetup with updates and new things people have tried over the course of a week. After a while, some of the managers became so impressed with our progress and the how such an unofficial meet continued steadily over the course of months, that they decided to procure high end GPU machines for the DLG. That was a fantastic first win for us at the DLG!
And that was not all- seeing the success of this model we built around deep learning, the department started pushing for employees to take up online courses and announced that it would, from that point on, be considered under the company’s “annual mandatory training hours”. Even better, they asked us to form groups just like the DLG for various other domains. So what started out as a small group of ten people meeting up every Tuesday, quickly reshaped how the company thought about learning and development.
This is a huge deal when you think that all this started because of fast.ai and some people in the company who wanted to learn from the very best in the industry
There were great many things that happened since then- I have since moved jobs. I now work at a startup that is working on natural language processing. I started writing blog posts, and took sessions for people getting started in deep learning. Also, I now lead the activities of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics vertical at the Singularity University Trivandrum chapter.
I get to meet a lot of people at our meetups and share a lot of experiences. And often times, when I am asked what the best place to start learning deep learning is, you can pretty much guess what my response would be
Great to be here for v2.
I hope we can create some new waves together.
Let’s connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niyasmohammed/