In addition to the tight-knit campus community, first-year student Ryan Sherman chose Notre Dame for the University’s involvement in artificial intelligence research and its interdisciplinary approach to learning.
The Chatham, New Jersey native intends to double major in Computer Science in the College of Engineering and Applied and Computational Mathematics (ACMS) in the College of Science. No stranger to academic research, he has jumped into a full course load and is pursuing extracurricular activities that allow him to explore the subjects he loves.
Sherman’s interests in computer science and artificial intelligence developed during his junior year at Chatham High School. He credits his computer science teacher, Dr. Mark Jones, as having a major influence on his educational path. Jones encouraged exploration of his interests through an extracurricular “Deep Learning Group.” Deep learning is a subset of machine learning, the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through "learned" experience. Deep learning algorithms are based on the structure and function of the human brain, working via artificial neural networks.
Sherman’s older brother Justin, who is studying computer science and tech policy at another university, shared and supported his interests too. The brothers even co-wrote an article for The Startup, a publication of the popular website Medium, about AI and privacy while Sherman was a high school senior.
Sherman continued his study of machine learning outside of class and through the Deep Learning Group, taking college-level courses online and watching video talks given by industry experts. Once he had some key concepts under his belt, Sherman began exploring different programming libraries—Keras, Tensorflow, and PyTorch—aided by his own knowledge of the Python programming language.
He decided to focus his efforts where he saw a need.
“I wanted to use the skills I’d learned to make a difference,” said Sherman. “I thought medicine was one way to do that.”
Sherman conducted several research projects in high school, applying machine learning approaches in building software that can be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, and early-stage lung cancer.
“I am interested in applying machine learning to solve real world problems,” says Sherman. “Whether that pertains to medicine, hunger, poverty, or the environment, there are numerous opportunities to make a real impact.”
As a first-year student coming into Notre Dame with research experience, Sherman is excited about the resources and opportunities available to him.
During his college search, he says, “One thing I really liked about Notre Dame was that I could get started right away with research. It’s not just reserved for upperclassmen.”
And, as the University expands its machine learning infrastructure, Sherman knows his opportunities will only grow from here.
“I am really excited about Notre Dame’s new expansion into machine learning and the amazing opportunities it presents,” says Sherman.
Not limiting his interests to class time, Sherman is exploring another area of computer science through the Sports Analytics Club. He is currently designing the club's website and is looking to design a machine learning powered analytics system to use for all of Notre Dame’s athletic teams.
“I’ve been a sports fan my whole life, and have always loved math and numbers,” says Sherman. “So I am excited about being part of the Sports Analytics Club because it combines several of my interests in a really fun way.”
Aside from sports, Sherman loves the camaraderie he has found as a “Griffin” of Stanford Hall. He's made friends with his hallmates and connections in the wider Notre Dame community.
“I am really enjoying my first [year] at Notre Dame,” says Sherman. “When I first stepped foot in Stanford Hall, I was met with an unbelievably welcoming community. I immediately felt part of the Notre Dame family and that feeling has extended to everyone I have met here—from my hallmates to my classmates, to professors, and others.”
With his first year nearly wrapped up, Sherman is looking to the summer, during which he'll gain some valuable experience in the field of his future career.
As a recipient of the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship, Sherman will complete an internship at Amazon corporate headquarters in Seattle, Washington. He'll be working with a software engineering team on a project that has real-world impact.
In the meantime, Sherman has immersed himself in the study of machine learning, preparing for work in an exciting and ever-evolving industry.
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