Blogger: Madelon Molhoek, MSc. • 07 Jun 2019

My background is in Chemical Engineering and I ended up in the field of Artificial Intelligence and designing Business Models for TNO. How did that happen? Let me describe you what my traineeship looks like and the exciting projects I work on. Hopefully it gives you some insight in the variety of possibilities about what you can do and what you can achieve. TNO offers you a lot of freedom to design your own path. (Free tip: Take the time to explore what you like and find those opportunities.) So here it goes, some projects that in my opinion reflect my awesome time at TNO:

Department 1 – Heat Transfer Fluid Dynamics: Machine Learning in Energy Grid

Coming from a chemical engineering background, I enjoy working on the energy transition. When TNO offered the opportunity to every employee to hand in your own research ideas and possibly get funding, I handed in some of my ideas (Yes TNO offers you this opportunity!).  The “Machine learning in Energy Grid” project was selected and we are now working together with industrial partners to see whether we can use Machine Learning to better predict the energy consumption and production in order to free the way for renewable energy. This project also offers me the chance to be a project leader and try a consultant role,  working closely with external clients. Meanwhile I am updating my python skills and proud to mention that I am now designing my own Neural Networks.

Department 2 – DataScience: Fairness in Artificial Intelligence

A completely new topic for me, but with a high societal and future impact. What happens when AI provides you decision support to only hire men or only hire women? How can we make an algorithm fair and not have it discriminate people based on ethnicity or gender? We answer these questions together with other parties involving social scientists and legal experts. And these questions greatly stretch my mind and challenge me. We try to design ways of making an AI algorithm as fair and transparent as possible. Of course this raises a lot of ethical, juridical and technical questions that we try to find an answer to…

Trainee projects: Changing The Rules and Avatars

And now for something completely different: Within the traineeship you spend about 4 hours a week on a TNO wide topic. In my case I worked on the project Changing the Rules as a project leader. The goal was to design a new way of working only via an online platform. We were asking and answering questions like: What would TNO look like? How will the scientist be coupled to the companies?
Another trainee project that I am currently working on is on remotely controlled robots, also called Avatars. What will be the future of Avatars and what technologies do we need to develop in order to get there? We are interviewing different companies in all kinds of sectors and talk about our future with robots. For this project we are even going to visit a prison. Never thought I would end up there.

What next?

So from involving clients, leading projects to coding my own Neural Networks in Pytorch, there is a wide variety in my work. I enjoy the diversity of my work and the great potential to develop myself. Every day truly is different and every day I feel challenged and learn. I am just one year in the traineeship and I am curious what my next year will bring me.

About the author

Name: Madelon Molhoek, MSc.
Background: Chemical Engineering
Start date: March 2018

1st: Heat Transfer & Fluid Dynamics, Delft
2nd: Data Science, The Hague


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