November 23, 2020

Meet Cohort One: David, Marvin, and AI at TransAlta

From over 550 applications, we are pleased to welcome the first cohort of ground-breakers and algorithm-makers from the 8 interns in the Applied AI Lab. This week we are showcasing David and Marvin who are working with TransAlta, and taking a deeper look into AI at TransAlta!

Meet our Interns

David Jeon

Hi, I’m David, a Machine Learning Developer Intern at AltaML’s Applied AI Lab. I graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelors of Science in Math and Statistics. I planned on going to the US to pursue my MPH-EPI, but decided to stay in Calgary and pursue a career in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Calgary is at the heart of the next digital transformation and I want to be at the forefront of this movement. 

I first heard about AltaML through some work they were conducting with Alberta Health Services. Here, I first experienced the potential and implications of AI in not just health, but in all industries. I was hooked, and took many online courses to catch-up in the field - my background in Statistics definitely helped. I looked for opportunities to apply my knowledge and when AltaML opened its application, I applied immediately.

I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work here at AltaML. In my short time here, I have learned so much from my team and I am grateful for their advice - which I am excited to apply in my work with TransAlta, Canada’s largest clean electricity provider. The problems we face are meaningful and relevant, and I look forward to challenging these problems using machine learning approaches. Although the work is challenging, I can confidently say that I am growing every day and a month in, still tap dance to work.

Marvin Min

I am a newly trained data scientist with a master's degree in Data Science and a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. Now with AltaML, I am honored to call myself a Machine Learning Developer. 

During my undergraduate program and Ph.D., I always felt a gap between the mathematical theories I learned and the problems in the real world. The urge to fill this gap drove me to apply and complete the Master of Data Science program at the University of British Columbia. During this program, I not only learnt the theory of data science and machine learning but also trained to fluently use the tools and techniques to solve data science problems. The bridge that connects my background of mathematics and the era of data has been built. 

In the last two months of my master's program, I was involved in a data-driven project with BGC Engineering Inc to make probabilistic forecasts of the flood. The thrill that I could finally use mathematics and data science to solve a real-world problem was such a temptation that after hearing about the AltaML internship, I applied with no hesitation.

I am excited to be a part of AltaML’s initiative to build an AI talent pool for Calgary. The Applied AI Lab provides me with the opportunities and resources to work with industry partners to solve challenging use cases. My background and previous experience pair well with the partner company TransAlta, and together we will be working on developing ML solutions that will impact the electric power industry. I am looking forward to being a part of the AI community in Calgary and making my contributions.

Digital Transformation, AI, and TransAlta

Digital Transformation

TransAlta is undergoing an exciting digital transformation. The applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning are endless not only in our industry, but across all industries and we are striving to maximize the use of data into our operations. Currently, our data scientists are working hard to sort and organize massive amounts of data to leverage it to its fullest potential. Simultaneously, our team has been assembling best practices and use cases to build models that can best predict future events.

Artificial Intelligence in the Field

An application of these models is being considered to tackle the challenge of icing on our turbines. Ice build-up means significant downtime at our wind facilities to complete de-icing procedures. The models use historical data to predict future icing events. The forecasting is a combination of data and alerts sent to wind operators ahead of a predicted event. This data could also be fed into machine learning systems to ultimately automate the operations of our turbines so that they could shut down when those icing conditions presented themselves.

TransAlta in the Community

As a Calgary-born company, we understand the evolving needs of our city and our province. Innovation and diversification are what we need to stay competitive and keep Calgary on the world stage. We are thrilled to participate in AltaML’s program because it provides our teams with direct access to a funnel of skilled data science practitioners with relevant industry experience to get the job done in the new, data-driven economy.

About the Applied AI Lab

The Applied AI Lab was created to accelerate applied AI development. The AI Lab is a collaborative industry-led initiative, partnering with ATB, Suncor Energy, Spartan Control, and TransAlta. It helps bridge the talent gap between academic and applied skills by providing interns with guidance and access to real business problems, data, and industry partners. Over the 3-year program term approximately 240 individuals will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in applying AI.

For more information contact:

Danielle Gifford, Applied AI Lab Manager

Email: [email protected] 

About TransAlta 

Beginning as a small, local power company in 1909, we have transformed over the last century to become an experienced and well-respected power generator and wholesale marketer of electricity. With approximately $3 billion in annual revenue, more than $9 billion in assets and operations in three countries, we have proven our worth as an electricity producer, as a community member and as a solid investment.

For more information please visit transalta.com 

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