The path from ACM SPY (now IT SPY) to an internship at GoogleGoogle
Barbora Micenková won the ACM SPY competition in 2011 with her diploma thesis on the topic Automatic differentiation of genuine and forged stamps in documents. She is currently on an internship in the Swiss city of Zurich as a software engineer in Google.
She graduated from a Master’s programme at Brno University of Technology. She then started a course of study in a doctoral programme at Aarthus University in Denmark which she is continuing in now. Apart from this, she also participates in other projects such as the above-mentioned internship with Google.
Barbora registered for the ACM SPY competition the moment she was accepted for her doctoral study in Denmark. “It gave me self-confidence, something which was greatly needed at the start of my doctoral studies, and also the will to continue in science. The university environment is really competitive and it also takes a long time until a person starts to be productive, so I sometimes had doubts about my abilities. The award for my thesis was a great motivation,” says Barbora Micenková with regards to her victory in the ACM SPY diploma thesis competition. Apart from psychological support, the award also represented a valuable reference for the winner, thanks to which she was noticed by Google where she first won the prestigious Anita Borg grant and was later also offered an internship.
The project for automatic differentiation of genuine and forged stamps in documents with which Barbora won the competition has already ended. She is now working on other projects in Denmark, but the field of research is still the same – artificial intelligence. “I know that from the point of view of my career development I should focus on one field, but I am currently enjoying working on a lot of projects and it gives me a better overview of the field as a whole,” says Barbora.
And in which direction is Barbora heading in the future? She would like to do work which has a positive impact on her surroundings and where she can at the same time utilise her abilities. She definitely wants to engage in research, because there are no bounds to creativity in this field and the possibilities for further education are unlimited. Barbora has not yet decided whether she will engage in research at university or in the field of industry, but one of her goals is clear: “As a woman, I am bothered by the general lack of interest by women in science and technology and I would like to further promote this sector for them in the future.”
Overall winner of all IT competitions in 2012
Ondřej Mikšík won the ACP SPY competition in 2012 with his diploma thesis on the topic of Dynamic recognition of scenes for navigation of a mobile robot. Ondřej is currently studying in a doctoral programme at Oxford Brookes University.
In 2012, Ondřej Mikšík graduated from a Master’s programme at Brno Technical University, where he engaged in research in a group focused on robotic and artificial intelligence.
He is currently studying at the prestigious above-mentioned Oxford Brookes University and his main fields of interest include computer vision and machine learning.
Ondřej registered for the competition with a project which he believed in. And as you can see, he was right to do so. In the future, he wants to continue to spend his time as a student discovering and investigating interesting problems and then see which direction his potential takes him in.
How does his diploma project save people all over the world?
In 2010, Zbyněk Poulíček came second in the ACM SPY competition with his diploma thesis on the topic of a Multi-user map application for handheld devices and has applied the results of his university project in practice!
In 2010 he graduated from a Master’s programme at Brno Technical University in the field of information technologies and during his studies, addressed the issue of the previously mentioned map applications.
He is currently engaged full time with his company GINA Software, where he acts as Executive Director, and adds: “My diploma thesis kick-started the GINA project, on the basis of which some friends and I founded GINA Software. When I started to write it, I already knew that I wanted the project to surpass the boundaries of academia. Back then, I still had no idea that the project would be the subject of my future business, but that is what happened and the foundation stones I laid during my diploma thesis are still part of our technology.” GINA Software engages in development of equipment to help people who find themselves in emergency situations all over the world.
The company’s flagship project is the GINA System. The GINA (Geographic INformation Assistant) navigation system allows for coordination of rescue workers in demanding terrain during provision of humanitarian aid missions (Haiti or Japan etc.) and also helps coordination of individual teams. “It is basically specially developed software with map data which helps rescue teams to achieve a high level of efficiency while rescuing human lives. Areas of rescue work are recorded on the map which is evaluated every minute in real time. All of the rescue teams thus always have the most up-to-date information possible at their disposal,” adds Zbyněk Poulíček.
Winning second place in the ACM SPY diploma thesis competition was another milestone reached for Zbyněk Poulíček on his way to making his dreams come true and gave his efforts to implement the whole project greater meaning at the time when he was finishing his studies. “Winning second place in the competition was an important reference for me, also during my subsequent study of information technologies. I am currently in particular concentrating on application of the technology in practice, but am engaged much more intensively in marketing and sales,” adds Zbyněk Poulíček with a smile.
With a win under the belt, it was easier to get into ETH Zurich
Pavol Bielik won the ACM SPY competition in 2011 in the Bachelor’s thesis category with a project on the topic of Personalised recommendation and measuring of physical activity within the framework of a system for improvement of quality of life. He is currently continuing his studies in Zurich.
He graduated from a Bachelor’s programme at the Slovak University of Technology in 2011. However, for his Master’s course, he already set off abroad, specifically to study at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He now only has to finish his last semester of studies in the field of software engineering there.
Winning the competition was of course not only pleasing for Pavol, but also helped him during the admission proceedings at the Swiss university. “I think that in terms of my application for ETH Zurich, winning the ACM SPY competition was definitely one of the things which helped me to distinguish myself from the other students. Applications for admission were evaluated purely on the basis of the documents we sent without any tests or interviews in person. This is why it was important to grab their attention,” adds Pavol.
The possibility of participating in the ACM SPY competition also gave Pavol motivation during his research and subsequent elaboration of the project. He himself says: “Whatever you do, it is important to set yourself a goal which will motivate you, one which is interesting for you and it should also be difficult to achieve this goal.” He made it to the competition final in his category and won, thus being able to compare the results of his research with other excellent students from the best Czech and Slovak universities. “Participation in the final of ACM SPY was an unforgettable experience,” adds Pavol.
The project which Pavol participated in the project with has already ended. He is currently in particular engaged in the topics Data Mining, High Performance Computing and Software Verification. He is planning an internship in one of the companies in the field during the summer and after finishing his studies, he has a simple goal – to work in a friendly team of people on interesting projects.