A new beginning.

Hello! I’m James and welcome to my blog!

I’m a little new at this, however I think its around time that I started to develop this page. I’ve completed a lot and there is a significant amount of work left for me to do, however let’s start at introductions before we delve into the objective of this blog.

I’m a  spry 23 year old who has recently completed his materials engineering degree from Dalhousie University (whew!), and I’ve been working for my professor as a research assistant and loving it. Unfortunately that will soon be coming to an end on April when the grant money runs out, and I’ll be left without any form of income or further academic job prospects. I also happen to be taking care of my 76 year old father who  I love dearly and is relying on me for financial support, which at the very least I owe him for all of the hardship we’ve fought through together over the years, including my mother passing way in 2001.

Which brings us to my job search – I’ve been applying for jobs locally and internationally;  writing custom cover letters and resumes (like the one below) to find positions in companies that would be interested in materials engineers. however I’ve been essentially screaming “hire me!” into the void and expecting a result, absolutely not a single person wants to hire me. I’ve applied for over 300 engineering positions on linkedin, kijiji, careerbeacon, even in person, no one wants a materials engineer.

My Resume (March 6th, 2014)

So as you can imagine, when you’re 23 and taking care of your ailing father who’s had prostate cancer for as long as you can remember, and both of you are rapidly running out of money, all of a sudden spending all of my waking hours job hunting doesn’t seem like a valuable use of my only valuable resource, my time.

At this point all I wanted was a semi-permanent job, I wasn’t looking for the holy grail and even at the time of writing this if someone offered me ~$40k a year to paint the mona lisa upside down and with my toes I would try my hardest to make sure he got his monies worth, however in my city it seemed as if all work suddenly dried up upon graduating, so I had to try something else which brings me to neural networks.

On the Bitcoin forums (Been an active Bitcoin advocate for the past couple of years, but sold too early har har!) someone posted about Artifical Neural Networks (ANNs) and machine learning systems designed to act as smart commodity agents, and linked to Jeff Heaton’s videos (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR1-GEpyOPzT2AO4D_eifdw) on neural network design and fundamental structures. I immediately realized the value of such a program and went to my university library to find any books I could on the topic, and begun studying.

Initially it was hard, I wasn’t used to working at such a pace. However with time, I’ve become used to the frantic “burning the candle on both ends” level of work, and I’ve transformed from a somewhat lazy engineering graduate to one of the hardest workers I know.

That was on February 1st, and it’s now March 6th, and a lot has changed. I’ve successfully completed a working prototype in OOP (Object Oriented Programming) C++ on my CPU, and I’m very nearly finished my openCL C version of my prototype, of which I call (creatively) “Foundation”.

My ideas aren’t completely revolutionary, however with time I hope to completely retool myself to become a very good engineer and machine learning scientist hybrid, and maybe landing a job I could be proud of.

Thanks for sticking with me on this rant, and I really do want to hear what your thoughts on what I’m doing, I’ll be updating this blog hopefully bi-weekly so there should be some interesting case studies next week on what I’ve learned about openCL and neural network design.

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