Victor Oludare, EG22

School: School of Engineering 

Degree: Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering 

New job: Video Machine Learning Engineer at Apple, based in San Diego

What has been the focus of your study? 

My research has mainly focused on bridging the gap between artificial intelligence (AI) and real-world problems. I was trying to take all the technical skills I could learn and put them to use creating algorithms to solve problems in diverse fields, ranging from animal conservation to nutrition.  

My interest in conservation, in particular, started when I assisted my advisor in creating demos to  teach non-Engineering students at Tufts how AI could be used for conservation. Our goal was to write and develop an algorithm to allow computers to differentiate between elephant sounds and human sounds. This got me started studying elephants; it was the first time I paid any attention to elephants. I got excited learning about how intelligent they are and the fact that they have feelings that are not easily recognizable to us. It inspired me to join Tufts Elephant Conservation Alliance, in fact.  

The best piece of advice you have for people who aspire to do what you’re doing? 

Stay curious. AI is evolving quickly, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest technology. If you’re not curious—I mean constantly inquiring, probing, and prodding for new developments and discoveries in the field—you can be left behind pretty fast. You need to keep studying, stay hungry. Also, never hesitate to ask for help from people who know more than you and can guide you.  

What most surprised you about yourself during your time at Tufts? 

I knew the academic system was different compared with back home, but I didn’t anticipate how much more rigorous it would be—and quite how dissimilar. At first, I felt great doubt… almost impostor syndrome: Was this really what I wanted to do? Was I good enough? It was stressful the first year. I had to teach myself a lot. I read so much, especially in that first summer. Then in my second year I started to get more comfortable sharing my ideas—but I still had a long way to go before I felt good enough for publication. But eventually that became more comfortable, too. So, at first I was surprised by the level of challenge, and then I was surprised by my ability to face the challenges.  

Also, I’m an introvert who prefers working alone. But I learned the value of teamwork and collaboration at Tufts, and that was surprising to me, too.  

What's one thing that helped you get this far? 

Coming from a disadvantaged background, I was determined to succeed and overcome every hurdle. The importance of having people believe in me, along with constant thoughts of my family, helped me get to where I am today. During my dissertation defense, I was fortunate to have my family attend virtually: it was not just my moment—it was theirs as well. Being determined and having people who consistently believe in you—these two things are so necessary. If you have them, irrespective of your background, you can make the most of life and of the opportunities that come your way.  

This profile originally appeared as part of the series “Profiles in Inspiration: Commencement 2022 Spotlights."

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