One of the youngest students at MILA (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms), the talented Rithesh Kumar, is only 22, yet he’s already well on his way towards a career as a researcher. 

Enrolled in a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the Université de Montréal with a focus on deep learning, Rithesh had a chance to work with one of the superstars of Artificial Intelligence (AI): the highly-esteemed Yoshua Bengio.

Professor Bengio is head of MILA, a Full Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Operation Research at the Université de Montréal and a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence. Despite a busy schedule, he finds time to collaborate with hundreds of researchers around the world as well as mentor students at UdeM. One of these students is Rithesh. They are working with Lyrebird on a research project about speech synthesis “which is related to replicating people’s voice. The ultimate goal would be to create artificial voices that are not differentiable from the real voices,” as Rithesh states. The aim is “to help everyone who loses their voice to a disease to recover this part of their identity,” says former US president, Barack Obama. The video is part of the project and is available on Rithesh’s website at ritheshkumar.com/obamanet

According to Rithesh, working on this project under the supervision of Professor Bengio is an honor. He explains that they’ve been working together for about one and half years. “I used to collaborate with him remotely, throughout my final year of undergrad at Anna University, in Chennai, in India. I can’t imagine where I’d be right now if I didn’t have him as my mentor.” Professor Bengio did inspire him to come to Montreal. This decision was also, however, encouraged by the fact that he would be able to pursue his studies at MILA. After all, as Rithesh says himself,  “It’s one of the best labs in the world doing research in artificial intelligence.”

To know more about Yoshua Bengio, check out the video below:

Even though Rithesh is a Master’s student at a top francophone universities, he works and studies in English. Nevertheless, he is willing to learn French and he’ll probably take some classes this year at MILA. The lab wants international researchers that work there to learn the main campus language, and the best part is: it doesn’t cost students a single penny. The MILA also offers several Master’s-level scholarships of 22k $CAD per year. In addition of this, there are other financing options for students that can be found on UdeM’s website

Rithesh is well adapted to his life in Montreal and he defines the city as a “truly international student place.” He recommends, however, that foreign students prepare themselves for the winter. “Grab a nice winter coat and come here as soon as you can,” he advises. Furthermore, there are thousands of job possibilities after studying at UdeM. The young Indian student doesn’t have any plans yet, but he’s considering staying after his Master studies. Among the possibilities now open to him, he sees a PhD at MILA or will look for research positions in “companies like Google, Facebook or Microsoft since all those companies already have research divisions in Montreal.

About the author
Carla Simon

Carla Simon is a Communications Officer at Université de Montréal where she got her Master’s degree in International Studies. Carla worked as a journalist for several years in Brazil, where she comes from. Interested in politics, books, vegetarian food, and languages, she has adopted as her hometown a place that brings all those things together: Montreal.

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