Years in Tech
AI Engineer, InstaDeep
Machine Learning/Data Analysis: Data Science; Machine Learning; Deep Learning
14th December 2018
Tejumade Afonja is the co-founder of AI Saturdays Lagos, an artificial intelligence community in Lagos, Nigeria where she and her team offer free-to-attend classes on Data science, Machine Learning and Deep Learning for 16 consecutive Saturdays through structured study groups. She is also an Intel Software Innovator for Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria. She works as an AI Engineer at InstaDeep Nigeria where she builds, test Machine Learning models and deploy these models to create an AI-Infused application. She has previously worked as a Frontend Engineer at 2ilabs, a company behind products like MoLearn, StayOn, Alvie and Talo. She is extremely passionate about Artificial Intelligence and its potential to improve life without opening up or exacerbating inequalities but she understands that in order to truly achieve this, locations in which AI is done will have to be widened and ambitious goals to democratize AI education will need to be set and she is on a mission to help bridge this gap of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria through AI Saturdays Classes.
What experiences led you to technology and how did you develop the skills to compete in the industry?
I think it started when I saw the pictures of Nasa’s curiosity rover in Mars. I thought that was the coolest thing ever and it was there on that my interest in Robotics was sparked. I had always been fascinated about how machines think and I sorta knew I wanted to be more than a Mechanical Engineer but I didn’t start working towards it until after my Undergraduate studies after which I started learning how to program because I wanted to become a Roboticist – I took several online courses, some I completed, others..well. I did front end development for a while, now I work in the field of AI – exciting stuff 🙂
How has your background helped/differentiated you in the tech industry?
I remember a popular misconception I believed as an undergrad which was that Mechanical Engineering students shouldn’t be programming, only CS student should. I think If I had known that programming was an essential skill set for everyone, I could have started earlier than I did and had a much more interesting time in school.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in technology? What do you wish you had known?
I want you to know that it’s a journey and there are several paths. Once you start this journey, there will be bumps along the way, you might doubt yourself or be confused sometimes and that’s okay. Enjoy the ride and try to stay focused. Learn about things that excite you, experiment, seek for help when you need one, surround yourself with people that challenge you to be better. Trust the process. This journey is a long ride, it’s different for everyone so don’t be too hard on yourself.