When Breandan Considine, who is from Bethlehem, New Hampshire in the United States, decided to pursue graduate studies, he knew he would apply to one of the world’s most renowned labs for deep-learning research. The MILA (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms) was founded by Université de Montréal Professor Yoshua Bengio, one of three founders of deep learning. Breandan holds a coveted position in Yoshua’s team, doing research in software engineering with the goal of teaching robots the same way as we teach children.  

As an undergraduate student at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, Breandan had the opportunity to study for two years in China. “Working and studying abroad gave me a wider perspective and I feel very lucky to have those experiences. It takes courage to travel to a new country, but despite what we sometimes hear in the media, the world is actually a very friendly place!” Wanting to pursue graduate studies somewhere closer to home, Breandan realized that “studying at UdeM was an easy choice because the Université de Montréal is a beacon for machine learning research.” Indeed, several major AI events are organized at UdeM. Nearly every week, computer science students have the opportunity to attend lectures given by researchers from around the world. The topics are as diverse as UdeM’s fields of expertise: deep learning, neuroscience, natural language processing, speech recognition, robotics, and much more.

In a world where success entails a heavy workload, we sometimes forget that it is also important to have fun. This is what makes Montreal such an interesting place to be. “Montreal is a very lively city, and offers a number of opportunities for work, study, and recreation. It boasts world-class art and culture, a progressive government, and is one of the most forward-thinking cities in North America. The public transportation is reliable and the streets are very bicycle-friendly.” Furthermore, Breandan gets to practice his French, given that Montreal is officially bilingual. Even though he’s not yet fluent, the computer science student enjoys the challenge of living in a bilingual environment. Both the Université de Montréal and MILA offer several French courses to newcomers and Intermediate French speakers

However, it’s not just Montreal’s vibrant lifestyle and the opportunity to learn French that have brought Breandan to Canada: his eagerness to learn and to contribute to advances in science make Montreal a top destination. “Although we have seen recent progress, machine learning is relatively young and our field is still developing the tools and infrastructure for building reliable software systems. Together with colleagues from GEODES, we are trying to improve the way we design, teach, and diagnose robotic systems”. The main goal is for robots to learn the same way humans do, “by speaking instructions or demonstrating a new task in person” instead of writing down very detailed instructions.

Being part of Yoshua Bengio’s team is one of the most amazing experiences that Breandan has had. He feels very lucky to be part of such an intellectual community. “Dr. Bengio sets a very high standard for the lab. His commitment to supporting future generations of scholars is also very generous. The MILA lab is home to many gifted mentors and colleagues, including my advisor, Dr. Paull. We have talented colleagues from around the world, including Brazil, China, India, Russia, and the United States”, he explains.

Breandan’s research experience coupled with the network that he is currently building during his time at UdeM will be key for succeeding in today’s competitive job market. “An UdeM diploma will equip you with the tools for pursuing a career in science, technology, business, or medicine”. Even more, the UdeM student experience remains priceless: “you will meet talented colleagues, have stimulating discussions, face challenging problems, discover new ideas, and emerge with a world-class education. There is an electricity here, a kind of enthusiasm you would be hard pressed to find on any campus in the world. Come visit us and see it for yourself!“. 

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.