Laura Montesdeoca Fenoy, Spain
Laura came to Denmark when she was 17 years old to study Robotic Engineering; a field she knew nothing about, in a country she had never been to before. Luckily, she fell in love with Denmark, her studies, and tech. 5½ years later she is still here and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Laura Montesdeoca Fenoy
“I honestly wasn’t sure which career path I wanted to pursue when I finished high school. I, therefore, decided to apply to everything that sounded remotely interesting and trust that when the time came, I would instinctively know what I was meant to do. I applied to study programmes ranging from Arab and Islamic Studies to Nanotechnology. And sure enough, when I was accepted at Aalborg University in Denmark to study Robotic Engineering, I had a feeling that this was right for me. I was 17 years old, with no previous programming or electrical experience, whatsoever. I decided to move alone, to a foreign country, where they spoke another language, to get an engineering degree in a male dominant field, that I wasn't even sure I would like. Luckily, I fell in love with it. And I no longer can imagine my life doing anything else.”
A hands-on approach to learning
“I moved to Denmark in 2015, and since I was under 18 my mom had to come with me and help me set up my life here. It all went incredibly easy, setting up a bank account, signing the lease, everything was digital and very intuitive. On top of that, everyone speaks English incredibly well, so a language barrier has never really existed for me.”
Explore: What career opportunities are you looking for?
“After my mom left, you would think I would get homesick. But I met a lot of other international students in a similar position and we hit it off. The studies were interesting and exciting; giving us real problems and even real robots to use and design solutions for. A very hands-on approach to learning combined with heavy theory courses, teaching us how the theory relates to the real world. Overall, it was an amazing experience. I was dealing with so many new life experiences, living on my own, fun university events, Friday bars, etc. I didn’t even have time to miss my family.”
It was a perfect match
“After my studies, I landed a job with the robotics and AI startup Yodaway. Even though they didn’t have an open position when I applied unsolicited, they called me in for an interview and offered me a position as Machine Learning Developer that same day. Their product is focused around robotics and artificial intelligence, which are both my areas of expertise, so it was a perfect match.”
“At Yodaway we generate data from the physical space for our customers. We offer insights about demographics, such as age and gender, as well as count of unique visitors, average time spent in their shop, etc. To achieve this, I've been working on machine learning models that predict age and gender based on your face. We have also experimented a bit with predicting customer satisfaction and stress levels based on facial expressions. As of lately, I have been working on a model that generates images of people so we can feed our algorithm with enough data to get the most accurate predictions.”
“I spend a great part of my time at Yodaway doing research. When a new challenge presents itself, I need to assess my current knowledge on the topic, read state of the art papers, and broaden my views on the task at hand. Once I have the needed knowledge, most commonly I can’t simply reproduce what has been done in the scientific community before. This results in a lot of experiments. Unfortunately, most of these experiments are carried out in a controlled environment, meaning that the data used has been carefully collected in a lab environment, where all conditions are ideal. Needless to say, the real world is a bit more chaotic. In order to have a working model "in the wild'', I need to take into consideration limitations such as computing power or possible future changes in illumination, pose, or other variables that are constantly changing in the real world. This often means having to get creative when designing solutions, which I find super fun.”
The advantages of living here are extensive
“Living in Denmark for 5½ years now, I must say that even though I miss the sun of Spain and my family and friends, the advantages of living here are extensive. I really like Denmark and my life is here now. I have a job I love, amazing friends, and Denmark is just a lovely place to live, people are nice and I think it's very sweet how sometimes there are encouraging or positive messages in public transport/places. Like when they display a random "Happy birthday" on a bus screen.”
“Also, the tech scene in Denmark is incredible. The availability of technology when studying, to how you interact with banking and the government through your e-Boks and NemID. As well as all the support with grants and different incentives to promote growth in technology and startups. Denmark is just the ideal hub for tech startups.”
Explore: Robotics in Denmark.