“The curriculum focuses more on the development of skills that employers are looking for. You are not expected to learn by memorising, but by absorbing knowledge through understanding and thinking in a different way.”
“The courses are structured in a way that [you] become an expert with core papers and a generalist on a wide range of elective subjects.
“This helps to future proof yourself as becoming a ‘master generalist’, which is a vital ingredient in today’s job market.”
In late 2018, Sagar started an internship at IntelaAI, a Wellington-based data analytics company specialising in machine learning, particularly, natural language processing, which is about helping machines build a nuanced understanding of human language and speech. It does this by teaching them how a sentence’s grammatical meaning can differ from its colloquial, everyday usage.
“Take this line for example – ‘Shah Rukh Khan set the stage on fire’. As humans, we know that is an expression meaning he is a great performer, but a machine would take this literally, and the results would be comical.”
As an intern, Sagar’s work is focused on natural language processing projects. He says his lecturers have played a key role in helping him to develop strong industry-relevant skills that he is able to apply to these projects.
Sagar’s AUT project supervisor Dr. Mahsa Mohaghegh’s research work on machine learning for English and te reo Māori (New Zealand’s indigenous language), for example, is informing his work on a natural language processing project for te reo Māori.
“I am grateful for Dr. Mahsa’s guidance on natural language processing for te reo Māori and the way in which I am able to directly apply my classroom learnings to work projects,” he says.
The course’s practical, hands-on teaching style has also influenced Sagar to think and learn in newer ways. For example, every week, the university invites a speaker from the data science industry to share their insights about working on real-world projects, he says.
“The sessions help broaden your perspective; you can associate practically what you are learning theoretically; the learning also continues outside the classroom as New Zealand has a small but extremely active tech community with regular meet-ups, conferences and hackathons.”