Justin Gould

Location: Detroit, MI
Position, Organization: Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Scientist, Ford Motor Company
Major/Graduation: BA in English Literature, 2017

Describe your experience in the department. What did you study?
My undergraduate education was in the English Department, where I earned a BA in English Literature in 2017.

What are you doing now?
I am currently a Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Scientist at Ford Motor Company. My work is focused on Natural Language Processing (NLP)—a field which combines computer science, linguistics, statistics, and advanced mathematics to process and analyze large amounts of natural language text. An example application of NLP is Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, which uses: speech-to-text (convert user question to text) and knowledge retrieval to identify relevant information.

What kinds of experiences, skills, classes training did you receive at MSU that helped you succeed in the job market, and beyond?
My time as an undergraduate English student at Michigan State was instrumental to my success in both graduate school (MS Business Analytics 2018) and in the workplace. The English curriculum gave me fundamental skills such as research and critical thinking, effective communication, curiosity, and—especially helpful for my current role—a deep understanding of the English language. I leveraged these skills daily to advance my graduate education in Data Science (graduate school requires a yearning to learn and skills in critical thinking to succeed) and use them now to conduct research in NLP and contribute to a wide variety of projects at Ford. These soft skills really do matter in the workplace, and they are more important than one might think. For example, you can develop an exceptional product with the most advanced technical capabilities, but if you aren’t able to effectively communicate it to a broader audience, you will have a hard time reaping the benefits of that work.

What is most memorable about your time in the English Department and Digital Commons?
I am incredibly thankful for my time in the English Department. When I think about what is most memorable about my time, a couple things come to mind. Outside of gaining skills which played an instrumental role in propelling my academic and non-academic careers, I genuinely enjoyed completing my senior thesis, focusing on Middle High German translation and analyzing extremist language, with Dr. Boyadjian. This was not only a topic in which I was extremely interested, but having the ability to collaborate and work one-on-one with Dr. Boyadjian was the highlight of my undergraduate career. She motivated and pushed me to constantly learn and question everything—principles I still apply to both my work and personal life/research interests.