Kaitlynn Sierra, a Yale University student in electrical engineering and computer science, had the opportunity to participate in the STARS (Science, Technology and Research Scholars) programme. It offers Yale undergraduate students the opportunity to combine study, research, mentoring, networking and career planning in the fields of science and technology. Ms Sierra has discovered a real passion for research while participating in a study abroad programme. Thanks to the exchange programme between Yale and UCLouvain, she had the chance to do both!
Throughout her exchange at UCLouvain, Ms Sierra documented her time in labs and her extracurricular life. She created a video that explains not only her research experience in our labs but also the admission process and her stay in Belgium. The video is on her YouTube channel.
In her video, Ms Sierra says that it all began last fall when she sent an email to Christophe De Vleeschouwer, a UCLouvain professor with whom she wanted to work. As a recipient of the Tetelman Fellowship, she received funding to conduct ten weeks of research on the UCLouvain Louvain-la-Neuve campus. Prof. De Vleeschouwer helped her create a research project based on her interests.
Her research project focuses on deep learning and image processing. Thus the research involves the insertion of a large number of biomedical images, such as CT scans, in a type of machine-learning model called a ‘neural network.’ The goal is to train the algorithm to recognise patterns, such as differentiating between cartilage and bone in a CT scan.
In her video, Ms Sierra also gives us a glimpse of her life outside the labs. It summarises Louvain-la-Neuve history and lists a multitude of on-campus student activities. She also discusses means of transport in Belgium and the many inter-European travel opportunities for exchange students. Ms Sierra says she learned a lot about Belgian culture! Her exchange gave her the opportunity to discover the many similarities and differences of engineering research between continents.
The Yale/UCLouvain exchange programme is in the test phase until the summer of 2020: so far only two Yale students and two UCLouvain students can participate. If this phase is successful, the two universities plan to sign an agreement to accommodate five students from each institution. Ms Sierra's experience definitely makes you want to join the programme!
To learn more about the Yale/UCLouvain exchange programme: https://uclouvain.be/fr/facultes/epl/collaborations-with-yale.html