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Blog
November 09, 2020

Meet Cohort One: Isaac, Elias, and AI at Suncor

After receiving more than 550 applications, we are pleased to welcome the first cohort of ground-breakers and algorithm-makers—the first eight interns in the Applied AI Lab. This week we are showcasing Isaac and Elias who are working with Suncor. We are also taking a deeper look into Suncor's digital transformation and the powerful combination of business knowledge and artificial intelligence.


Meet our Interns

Isaac Jones

Even before I graduated from university, I knew that data was going to be an integral part of my career.  I started my journey at Nova Scotia Community College, graduating with a diploma in mechanical engineering technology.  After NSCC, I converted my diploma into a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Lakehead University.  From there, I made my way to Calgary where I spent a couple of years in upstream oil and gas and directional drilling.

During the last couple of years, I have worked on developing my skills related to software development and data analysis.  I found that the more I learned about data science, the better I was able to deliver solutions that had a real positive impact.  I also learned that software development and data science are much more interesting than mechanical engineering; which set me off on a mission to pivot my career to a niche that I am really passionate about.  The journey hasn’t been easy, particularly because I didn’t have any tangible, hands-on experience on a real machine learning and data science team.

When I first heard about AltaML, I think the first thing out of my mouth was “Wow, they do some amazing work!  I’ll never be able to work with them!”  Turns out, with a little perseverance and grit, here I am!  I am so excited to be a part of the first cohort through the applied AI Lab, and to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful folks at Suncor.  I can’t wait to solve problems, apply my knowledge, and learn as much as I can in the coming weeks!

Elias Carciente

I discovered my passion for AI as a geophysics undergraduate student many moons ago. My mind blew when I started to solve problems using Neural Networks, Fuzzy Logic or Genetic Algorithm. I couldn’t believe that very basic ‘agents’ could spontaneously ‘invent’ money. I was hooked, and that led me to start an M.Sc. in Computer Science focused on AI.

Suddenly, life took me on a different path so I put AI aside and worked as a Geophysicist, Data Management Specialist, Systems Admin, Sales Engineer, and Cloud Architect among others. Finally after a full circle I am back in Machine Learning as a member of the first cohort of the Applied AI Lab at AltaML.

From the outside the culture and work at AltaML seems great. I am thrilled to say that from the inside it feels even better.  I am incredibly excited and grateful to be here. In 2018 I took an immersive (and intensive) Data Science program to validate and complement my skill set. This internship is my opportunity to prove to myself and the industry that there is a space where Calgary oil and gas professionals can add value in ML and tech in general.

On a personal note, I am a Venezuelan geophysicist/data scientist. I came to Canada with my wife 14 years ago, we have loved every moment since and we proudly call Calgary home.


Digital Transformation, AI, and Suncor

Our Digital Transformation

As part our digital transformation at Suncor, we aim to unleash the full potential of our people by introducing and supporting new capabilities that create value from data and fully utilize digital tools and technology. 

We’re already extensively using information technology in our business but the increasingly digital world brings new and exciting opportunities. As part of our approach, we are harnessing digital technology capabilities – including AI – to help improve the safety, productivity, reliability and environmental performance of our operations. 

Here is how we are using AI in our business today:

Using AI to solve business problems

We are leveraging AI/ML to increase effectiveness and efficiency by creating new tools and enhancing tools that already exist. A more digital environment means better-informed decisions, and increased speed, transparency, collaboration and efficiency.

Using advanced analytics, we are focused on new use cases that improve safety, reduce operating costs, optimize production and revenue generation, and help us to better connect with our stakeholders. Advanced analytics enable us to perform in-depth analysis more quickly and gain new insights that we couldn’t capture before. The powerful combination of business knowledge, the scientific analysis of data, and the use of new technology enables the application of advanced analytics to drive action based on new insights from existing data.

New opportunities with the Applied AI Lab

Our partnership with the AltaML AI Lab provides opportunities to leverage data to support advanced analytics, timely decisions and efficiency in our teams. Interns are working to solve Suncor problems with Suncor data, which should positively impact our business. For example, we are using AI to examine how we can extend the life of our operating assets through predictive maintenance and improve our communication with stakeholders.

Building our AI talent pipeline

Looking to the future, we know that AI is essential to maintaining competitive advantage and realize our digital transformation. Suncor is proud to be part of the AltaML Applied AI Lab to help build the AI/ML talent pool in Alberta.


About the Applied AI Lab

The Applied AI Lab was created to accelerate applied AI development. The AI Lab is a collaborative industry-led initiative, partnering with ATB, Suncor Energy, Spartan Control, and TransAlta. It helps bridge the talent gap between academic and applied skills by providing interns with guidance and access to real business problems, data, and industry partners. Over the 3-year program term approximately 240 individuals will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in applying AI.

For more information contact:

Danielle Gifford, Applied AI Lab Manager

Email: [email protected] 

Want to elevate human potential through AI?

Apply now and start your journey in the world of machine learning.

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