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The internships inspired to a career within AI

For Marcus Ascard, the interest in artificial intelligence (AI) started in his early studies – he was fascinated by how a computer could play a computer game by itself. Today, the engineering student has gained working experience in artificial intelligence from two different companies, and pictures a future career within AI.

Marcus is in his fifth and final year of the civil engineering program in Electrical Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. During his studies, he has been an intern at the startup company and the consulting company Softhouse. The next step for Marcus is to look for a degree project within AI for this upcoming spring and is planning on attending the Degree Project fair.

Portrait: Marcus Ascard, Electrical Engineering, LTH, Lund University

Let us start with! Tell us about the company and which AI-related work tasks you had as an intern?
- The company is a start-up company within something called AgTech, Agricultural Technology. In simple terms, it is technology within agriculture. The core of it is to enable inspection of animals with help from their technology. All you need is to monitor a camera, and the company will contribute with software which farmers or big agriculturalists can use to inspect their animals. 

One of Marcus's tasks was to build a demo for a problem the company was struggling with.
- It is quite difficult to demonstrate your products and show "this is actually what we can do", especially when it comes to AI and AgTech. To solve this problem, I built a demo consisting of a web application with a live streaming function which I programmed. In this way, we could present the software "in action". When building the demo, I wasn't involved in training the models at that stage. Rather, it was more about using pre-made AI. But then towards the end of the internship, I had to train my own model and test it on real data. That AI model was using images from a video camera to detect certain behaviours of the animals.

I wanted to gain work experience and strengthen my CV before my exam.

The internship at was not part of Marcus' education, but an internship that he applied to on his own. He explains that he wanted to get more work experience and strengthen his CV with something related to AI before graduating. Furthermore, Marcus shares that his experience at came in very handy at his second internship at Softhouse (consulting company specialized in software and app development as well as cloud solutions, ed. note), especially when brainstorming in groups for different projects.
- I felt that I could contribute more to the discussions now that I had gained working experience and seen how you can work with AI.

At the Softhouse office in Malmö, Marcus worked in a small team with three supervisors and two colleagues who were also students.
- Together we completed a project where we, with help from AI, analysed tweets from political party leaders and decided on a topic, sentiment and target for every tweet written in the past year. During the brainstorming phase, we discussed the possibility of developing an internal chatbot/smart assistant for Softhouse that could do anything from chatting with you (for fun) to book meetings and meeting rooms. 

Being involved from idea to actual final product was a very useful experience to gain.

Being involved in a project right from the start and working in groups has been the most worthwhile during Marcus’ internship.
- I feel like I go back to it quite a lot, especially about being involved from initial idea to actual final product. I think it was a very useful experience to gain. I also learned how to work in a group in the workplace, for example how you programme in a group and distribute work tasks within the group.

How would you say your education has come in handy during the internships?
- I definitely think that my education has given me good opportunities to see what is possible and not possible. Also, to come up with suggestions for possible approaches such as which algorithms or models could be used for the different projects. Otherwise, it is very easy to sit and think that, when it comes to AI in particular, "we are building something smart", but then you have no anchor in what is needed to achieve it.

Lastly, Marcus is looking forward to start a degree project with focus on artificial intelligence this upcoming spring.