Today’s Q&A features Jim Fan, an undergrad intern in Baidu Research’s SVAIL (Silicon Valley AI Lab). Jim will soon be returning to Columbia University for his senior year.
Q: Jim, what are you working on at Baidu?
Jim: I am building a new interface to the AI Lab’s training system that allows researchers to specify new neural network models much more quickly. I think this will have a big impact on the lab’s work since it will let the team try more complex models than before and enable the team to make faster progress.
Q: Why did you decide to intern at Baidu?
Jim: I received offers from Baidu and another leading search engine. I selected Baidu in a heartbeat for several reasons:
1. SVAIL is led by Andrew Ng and Adam Coates, for whom I have deep respect.
2. The teams here are working on projects that I am passionate about.
3. Baidu treats interns as equal team members and is committed to sharing knowledge with us. I don’t think other companies could have provided me with this experience.
4. Also, I have the honor of being SVAIL’s very first summer intern!
Q: What is your favorite part about working at Baidu?
Jim: In addition to the people, what I appreciate the most are the computational resources that we have. When I was working on speech recognition at my university, they didn’t have nearly as many GPUs. Baidu allows interns to have access to huge amounts of GPU computing power. We work with end-to-end industrial-scale speech recognition engine that will have a huge impact on millions of people and I’m very excited about it.
Another key point: the food served here is absolutely amazing! There are catered lunches and dinners daily and a big snack inventory to help us get through the day.
Q: What was it like being an intern on the team?
Jim: I believe I fit really well with my team at Baidu. During my first few weeks here, I was trying to navigate a huge code base. The team was very friendly and welcoming in helping me navigate through it and teaching me how to use the training structures and GPUs. I am really grateful for my mentors this summer.
Q: What have you learned at Baidu?
Jim: Thanks to my team members, I learned new programming skills and more sophisticated deep learning techniques that will be extremely useful in the future. In addition, I improved my communications skills. I learned to communicate with my teammates effectively to make sure there’s no miscommunication and overlap in our work.