5 questions to Thierry Luhandjula

Netflix for education?

Since the beginning of October Thierry Luhandjula is temporary joining our Ynformed-team. Thierry works at Royal HaskoningDHV in South Africa. “South Africa has many challenges. Wouldn’t be great if data science could help with these highly complex problems?”

1. Why are you visiting Ynformed?

“The purpose of my visit at Ynformed is to observe how the high-level professional data science team affiliated to RHDHV operates. I want to learn from you guys by getting involved in some of the projects. I hope to increase my technical knowledge and get as much insight as possible on the data consulting aspect as well. Through meeting and talking to the colleagues, I would like to establish relationships and bridges for further collaboration. And I also want to get inspired. South Africa’s main challenge is poverty and inequality. Wouldn’t be great if data science could help with these highly complex problems?” 

2. In what way could data science help with the problems that you named? 

“Well, daily life for many in South Africa can be pretty rough. For example, it’s not always easy to get access to good healthcare. And healthcare facilities can be crowded. Even so that sometimes people are forced to wait in long lines, even for a simple diagnosis. I can imagine that AI could play a role in speeding up this process.

Access to high quality education can also be challenging. There are various initiatives that aim to facilitate the spread of education for free, through online platforms. This is great, but it would be even better if we can combine all these initiatives to create one powerful platform that will include all the education material. Some sort of recommendation system for education. [ed.: Netflix for education?] Yes, I love that. That would be fantastic.”

3. Can you give an example of data science projects that you find inspiring?

“One thing I like about data science is that it could help make processes smarter and more efficient. Although I haven’t had a chance to get more involved in it yet, I am very interested in the ENVISION project. This is partly because of my computer vision background. To me it seems to be a “computer vision lite” platform that will make the development of computer vision solutions a bit easier. Great stuff, with a lot of possibilities.”

4. What data science challenges are awaiting you in South Africa?

“In South Africa, Royal HaskoningDHV is yet to establish itself as a company with data science knowledge and skills. There is already a significant effort in providing digital solutions in general, but now it is time to offer data science solutions that existing and new clients will be interested in. When I’m back the priority will be to grow a data science team and embark on new projects that bring solutions to our existing and new clients.” 

 5. In addition to work, what else does this experience provide you with? 

“It is indeed a very interesting and informative experience. It is my first time in the Netherlands, and the more I travel, the more I broaden my understanding of the world and it makes me grow. The high pace in and around the office works contagious. I love the effective way people work together and the capability of the colleagues here. Striking about Utrecht is the number of bicycles that are around. This is a new experience and an opportunity for me to start living a healthier lifestyle. Instead of driving, and therefore walking very little, I walk and cycle a lot more in the Netherlands: ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. Of course, I intend to make changes when I return to continue what I have started here.”

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