ScholarX is a 6-month program initiated by the Sustainable Education Foundation facilitating mentoring support to selected potential undergraduates in Sri Lanka. The program provides the undergraduates to work under academic and industrial experts from the world’s top universities and organizations to build successful research or an industrial career in the future while developing their own network.

I was lucky enough to be selected for this wonderful program and honored to be mentored by Dr. Sadeep Jayasumana, who is a Senior Research Scientist at Google Research, New York. Dr. Sadeep was a computer vision researcher at a UK-based self-driving car startup and has also worked as a machine learning researcher at Man AHL, a London-based quantitative hedge fund. In summary, Dr. Sadeep is an expert in computer vision, machine learning, and deep learning fields and a humble human who always supports Sri Lankans to reach great achievements in the mentioned trending areas. Other than that, through this program, I also got the opportunity to be a part of an amazing team that had great enthusiasm and has a similar interest and experience in machine learning and deep learning which further helped me to learn a lot during the ScholarX journey.

At the first meeting, the team members shared their interested areas and expectations from the program with Dr. Sadeep. After considering each and every team member’s expectations Dr. Sadeep presented a balanced plan where we can learn machine learning concepts while facilitating mentoring support in many different domains such as higher studies plans, facing interviews, financial balance in life, etc and we had bi-weekly meetings to discuss those aspects.

At the first meeting, the team members shared their interested areas and expectations from the program with Dr. Sadeep, and after considering each and every team member’s expectations he presented a well-balanced plan where we can learn machine learning concepts while facilitating mentoring support in many different domains such as higher studies persuasions, facing interviews, maintaining financial balance in life, etc and we had bi-weekly meetings to discuss those aspects. After the initial discussion, our mentor shared with us the relevant resources and materials to improve the team members’ theoretical knowledge and coding skills. Then he instructed us on a project called long-tail learning via logit adjustment in which we can further enhance our knowledge in deep learning. It also gave us the chance to apply those theoretical concepts gained to a practical use case by referring to the resources he had provided. In order to complete the project, we had to first review several research papers and understand the underlying concepts. We as a team took several meetings for project work and shared our knowledge with each other, and were able to successfully complete the task. Furthermore, Dr. Sadeep continuously provided his insights and taught us many theoretical concepts related to the project as well as other concepts which tremendously help us to gain a proper understanding of deep learning concepts.

During the period, other than the technical stuff, I gained a lot of knowledge regarding higher studies through my mentor’s guidance where I learned the important areas I should pay attention to if I am to pursue higher studies in the future. Furthermore, I learned the pros and cons of doing a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in the industry which I believe is a great opportunity to be received as an undergraduate. Other than that my mentor advised me on how to prepare for interviews for big tech companies while referring to the experiences he had on the journey to obtain a research scientist position at Google. Not only that Dr. Sadeep conducted an extremely valuable session on finance handling as a youngster which greatly help us to understand the value of focusing on financial investment at an early stage in life.

Overall it was a great and once-in-a-lifetime experience that I believe should be pursued as an undergraduate in Sri Lanka. I gained a lot of support and knowledge from my mentor to help shape my future and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity. Furthermore, I would like to thank Sustainable Education Foundation for providing me with this wonderful opportunity and I wish they will continue this social service as it will help many more undergraduates to shape their future careers.

Electronic Engineering Undergraduate | University of Moratuwa | Robotics Enthusiast