College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Augusto Menezes Savaris: Outstanding senior in computer engineering

I want to be involved in machine learning to leave a positive impact in the world…to help create a society where we can increase food, housing, and health security for marginalized populations.”

Hometown: Chapeco, Brazil

Clubs and activities: Founded and was president of the Artificial Intelligence Club. I was also involved with undergraduate research since my first academic semester.

Two of the main projects I was involved in were: a natural language processing neural network that would automatically detect uninitialized and undeclared variables errors in C/C++, and we were extending it to other run-time errors. The second was exploring how a semi-supervised learning framework utilizing autoencoders for an image classification task compared to benchmarks of supervised learning systems.

Valuable hands-on learning experiences: For the past year, I have been in a part-time co-op with a startup based in Chicago. I have been able to work with real-world data and apply machine learning and statistics techniques to understand raw data and build predictive ML models.

What has been special about this opportunity is that, since this is a startup, I was given projects of high responsibility and impact to the company, which caused me to learn a lot about the implementation, evaluation and fairness concerns of real-world machine learning systems.

Influential mentor: I was still an electrical engineering major and took EE 285 with Mathew Wymore, assistant teaching professor of electrical and computer engineering. EE 285 focuses a lot on programming with C and understanding some fundamentals of programming languages.

Dr. Wymore’s passion for computer engineering, and the early assignments I was exposed to helped me realize my real interest was in computer engineering. Today, I am very thankful to his class early as I am certain I made the right choice switching majors. 

Best memory: I will always remember towards the end of CPRE 381, when we completed the project of building and simulating a fixed-point pipelined processor. This was a time-consuming and complex class, but the final product of the semester made it all worth it. Very satisfying to complete a challenging and interesting project, where you feel you learned a lot!

Plans after graduation: I’m going to be working as a machine learning engineer. I don’t have an exact decision on where I’ll be yet, but the start-up I’m currently interning with is an exciting opportunity that I’d love to stay involved with.

Leaving my mark on the world: There are mainly two ways I want to be involved in machine learning to leave a positive impact in the world. First, as this technology becomes more present and more processes are automated across industries, I want to work with non-profit organizations and governments across the world to ensure the wealth created by ML is distributed among the population, rather than controlled by small groups. This could allow us to create a society where we can increase food, housing and health security for marginalized populations.

Second, I want to apply machine learning in efforts to decrease global warming effects. This has already shown to be promising in providing systems to monitor deforestation and wildlife populations, detect cities’ air pollution through satellite imagery, model future ocean level rising and identify possible communities at risk. I want to be involved in these initiatives and further the positive impact of ML!