Posted in: Awards and Prizes, IBM Research-Africa, IBM Research-Zurich

Great Minds 2018: Meet the New Generation

IBM Research has recently announced the winners of the 2018 Great Minds student internships. The Great Minds competition is open to students from central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, who can apply to win a 3- to 6-month practicum at our labs in Zurich, Nairobi or Johannesburg.

Let’s meet the class of 2018 and find out why they applied, what they expect to learn, and what inspires them.


Ivan Bhatia (Nairobi)

“I applied to Great Minds because I wanted to be a part of a company that’s dedicated to cutting-edge research and strives to find solutions to the world’s current and future problems,” says Ivan, a passionate engineer. Ivan has been following IBM closely since his days as a professional Software Engineer and during his studies at Carnegie Mellon University. “I’m interested in IBM’s recent research in machine learning, deep learning and blockchain technology, in particular, because it has the potential to the solve problems we’re facing Africa around distributed applications.” Ivan will be working with a blockchain team on creating a data and service marketplace platform on a blockchain network. “I am inspired by the many inventors in the world who have made selfless contributions to simplify people’s lives. I would like to expand this list of inventors to include more Africans solving the problems specific to the continent,” Ivan explains.

Maria Halushko (Zurich)

Maria is from the Ukraine and believes that artificial intelligence is the future: “Artificial intelligence and machine learning has the potential to open up new opportunities to solve a huge variety of critical human problems. From discovering a cure for threatening diseases to automatizing daily aspects of our everyday lives, the possibilities to better our world are endless.” Maria applied for the Great Minds internship with her eye on three specific IBM projects. Her first choice would be to work on the project that investigates the interplay between machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing. Passionate about machine learning, Maria is looking forward to working alongside top IBM scientists specializing in this area of research. “In my opinion, if you really strive to get what you want, you get it.”

Daniel Omeiza (Nairobi)

As a masters student at Carnegie Mellon University with a strong interest in artificial intelligence, Daniel hopes to contribute to the future of technology by finding tangible answers to two important questions: 1) Can programming languages be designed to contain machine learning primitives with lots of abstractions? 2) Will the general perception of a regular computer one day include machine learning? Daniel plans to tackle these questions by investigating new paradigms for programming languages that will ease the implementation processes of machine learning algorithms, and also make the necessary machine learning tools available instantaneously. “I intend to work on IBM projects that revolve around building machine learning models from online user generated data in emerging markets which could scale easily across multiple platforms,” he explains. Daniel is grateful to be a part of Great Minds, as it will give him the opportunity to improve his research skills, deepen his knowledge of machine learning, and connect with top scientists. His advice for future applicants is: “Be inquisitive, creative, and proactive.”

Filip Saina (Zurich)

When Filip arrives at IBM he will explore the topic of Big Data time series analysis using deep learning. Through this research he intends to learn more about applying state-of-the-art machine-learning methods for time-series analysis to predict behaviors of real-world industrial systems. “The scope of industrial applications for such a system is enormous,” Filip explains with enthusiasm, “especially when the sheer amount of data requires usage of a highly scalable Big Data infrastructure.” Filip, a first-year master’s student of Computer Science at the University of Zagreb in Croatia, is interested in examining the potential architectural problems of large scale machine learning algorithms and hopes to get first-hand experience working on this topic in an IBM environment where research and industry intersect. “To anyone still thinking about applying for 2019 Great Minds – stop hesitating! Just send the application and see what happens.”

Yuliia Sikach (Zurich)

“I applied for Great Minds because I knew it would give me the chance to gain more practical experience in the field of cybersecurity,” says Yuliia who is currently majoring in cybersecurity at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine. This summer, Yuliia will not only receive her bachelor’s degree, she will also come to the IBM Zurich lab to work hard and focus her attention on learning more about hardware security for cloud systems. Yuliia finds her inspiration in people who are passionate about their work and make a continuous effort do something new to make this world better. “My advice to anyone applying for Great Minds in 2019 – find a topic you and IBM are mutually interested in and go for it!”

Christian Schweizer

HR Manager, IBM Research - Zurich