When you ask people what they like best about Sheffield, they all reply the same thing - the people!

Profile photo of Yang Wang.
Yang Wang
Research Intern
MSc Computer Science with Speech and Language Processing
After graduating Yang Wang joined VoiceBase as an intern. Whilst working as an intern he is also waiting to get some of his research published in a journal. In the future he hopes to continue his passion for research by doing a PhD.

What are your main responsibilities?
As a research intern in VoiceBase Centre, I conduct experiments regarding speech technology. To be more specific, I build the pipeline for training channel demixing network to separate speech sources. Fulfilling tasks set out by supervisors is also important, and to extension, completing my primary duties and any additional work I may have.

Can you describe a typical day?
In the mornings, I usually attend a daily meeting and prepare for the code review. The rest of the day will be devoted to reading articles relating to my field of work and discussing the code with my colleagues. I will  also spend time writing down documentation and presenting findings describing the code implementation.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role or your greatest achievement so far?
I would say, it can be really satisfying to get a challenging piece of code to work or to fix an extremely hard problem. Even if speech processing isn't my area of expertise, I still work hard to complete the project. This is probably the reason why I am willing to insert my passion here.

Are there any challenging aspects? If so what are they?
Working in a completely different academic field is quite difficult for me, and I am constantly overwhelmed. Furthermore, it's quite normal for me that I spent a few weeks on something and I'm thoroughly stuck. Sometimes I might wonder, do I need to reformulate the question differently, or am I merely barking up the wrong tree? - at this moment, I am usually stressed out! On one occasion I was stuck for two months. After trying different methods to solve my problems I fished of ideas with other researchers and discussed it with them. Their suggestions gave me a different angle to try and I gained new perspectives which meant I finally conquered the challenge. I also find taking a break from a problem to clear my head before returning is a great way to help solve difficult challenges. 

What skills/qualifications from your degree or other training do you make use of in your job?
The skills I gained from my degree mainly includes an eclectic mix of tickling challenges and taking in a new culture. For me, studying in Sheffield is an experience unlike any other. First, problem solving is the essence of what researchers exist to do. The goal for me is to minimise the occurrence of problems. Second, as an international student, I am fascinated by the distinct cultural perspectives in Sheffield. When I study here, I am exposed to traditions and social atmospheres. In a nutshell, I have the opportunity to witness a completely new way of life.

How have these skills or your course made a difference in your career?
First and foremost, I have come to this job with strong critical thinking skills and how to do a well-run brainstorming session. It is not only useful in my career, but also in my daily life. I have developed these skills as I progress through my education in Sheffield. Communication, problem-solving and teamwork are all examples, and this is super helpful in my current role.

Why did you choose to study at Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield, which prides itself on its prowess in the natural language processing field, was my unwavering choice for overseas [UK] study. Possessing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics degree is simply inadequate to become proficient in natural language processing. Therefore, I desired to learn more about machine learning by taking a postgraduate degree course, and as the field of computer science focuses on the study of natural language processing, a degree in the discipline allowed me to pursue a variety of careers.

Did your time at Sheffield meet your expectations?
Over my time in the "Steel City", the University of Sheffield didn't deliver face-to-face teaching. This was somehow disappointing in some respect. However, it was the best moment for me to get out of my comfort zone and explore new things I never imagined.

What were the best things about studying in the Department?
The modules were diverse, and I have the option to learn about a wide range of computer science topics. Studying in the Department of Computer Science is a riveting experience. Technical skills such as programming, and non-technical skills such as problem-solving and leadership, are amongst some of the things I gain. Since we live in a time when technology plays such a significant part in so many aspects of life, the many skills that this degree provides are in high demand.

What did you like best about Sheffield? (both the University and the City)
The people for sure! It influences me more than I can ever imagine. It's a cliché, but when you ask people what they like about Sheffield, they all reply the same thing. For example, I joined the National Volleyball League in Sheffield as a foreign player, yet I didn't feel out of place. I easily fit in with my teammates and we got along swimmingly.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
For the time being, I intend to pursue a PhD in the near future. It is a striking fact that I really enjoy working in a research environment. I can have the opportunity to collaborate with many PhD students in academia and researchers in both industry and academic. Moreover, I could work on discovering cool ideas when conducting research.

If you could give one piece of advice to current students or recent graduates what would it be?
Current students should appreciate, embrace, and make the most of their time at the University of Sheffield. As for recent graduates, just remember four words: be positive, principled, pro-active, and productive. Keep moving forward, learn from everything, and prepare for the future.

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