From a young age, MSc candidate Jasper knew he would pursue computer science. “I was always excited about technology and trying to understand how things work,” he notes. “I was absolutely fascinated by the internet and how it has so quickly revolutionized how we communicate and obtain information… I wanted to be a part of that revolution.” He adds with a smile, “it didn’t hurt that I’d end up with a very employable degree.”
This revolutionary spirit led Jasper to the Department of Computer Science (DCS) at the UofT, where his area of study has primarily been machine learning and computer vision. Being born in the Netherlands and having lived all over the world, including parts of Europe, South Asia and the Caribbean, it was important to Jasper that he study in the type of diverse and bustling atmosphere that Toronto offers. However, it was the department itself that sealed the deal when Jasper was considering where he would engage in post-graduate studies:
“[DCS] is easily one of the top departments in the world. Where else can you learn the P=NP problem from the person who originally proposed it, or be taught artificial neural networks from the guy whose algorithm made them possible?Everyone here is extremely friendly and professors are always eager to help you learn.”
It is apparent that Jasper has taken full advantage of this opportunity here at DCS, and has become absorbed in research that has important implications for the public at large. “My research is currently based on making everyday life safer using computer science. My main focus is using artificial intelligence and a video camera to automatically detect if someone is in distress after an injury (for example by analyzing motion on stairs to detect if someone has twisted their ankle). This is of particular value to the elderly population, as falling in the home is their greatest cause of accidental death and injury.”
With his ambitious study objectives, it is a relief to hear that Jasper is also taking advantage of being at university in Toronto, going out at night with his friends, playing soccer, watching movies and playing guitar. In fact, he’s managed to mix business with pleasure: “I help organize pick up soccer matches [with DCS] grad students and faculty… I even played with a professor as I was taking his course!”
When asked about his advice for prospective DCS grad students, Jasper comments, “make sure you tour the universities you’re looking at and especially get to know your potential supervisor before you start… don’t settle for a research project topic you’re only half-interested in. There are so many interesting topics in computer science that if you keep looking, you will eventually find something you’re passionate about.” This thoughtful reply reflects the enthusiasm and insight that make Jasper a very welcome addition to the DCS community!
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