Tiina Lindh-Knuutila works as a solutions architect at Lingsoft, a company providing language and translation services. She has had a grandstand view of how language technology and machine learning have taken major leaps forward in a short period of time. According to Tiina, the demand for solutions offered by language technology is growing constantly, and employers are practically begging experts in the field to work for them.
How did you become interested in language technology in the first place?
It all began from my wide-ranging interest in language and communication, but also in technical solutions that enable closer examination of languages and make people's lives easier. I have been relatively good in problem solving, mathematics and physics, and I come from a family with engineers.
I applied to study technology in a major with the highest number of optional courses on the offer. Later, language technology appeared as an option to major in, and I thought it would conveniently combine my interests. I also integrated some studies in general linguistics and phonetics at the University of Helsinki into my degree.
What was the best part of your studies?
I enjoyed everything! We had a wonderful group of students, and I liked being involved in guild activities. I served as a Master of Studies at the Guild of Electrical Engineering (Sähköinsinöörikilta) and served in its committees for several years. The guild activities gave me a chance to influence how the university and the students work together.
Teaching was good, and student life was really active. I also made an exchange visit to Telecom Paris University in Paris, which I would certainly not have been able to get into otherwise, but the Erasmus exchange programme made it possible. Aalto University has good cooperation networks, and being in exchange was an amazing experience!
What kind of working life tools did your studies give you?
When you have succeeded in your studies at this level, you learn self-direction and a mentality needed for working hard. In my studies and guild activities, I learned a lot about how things are done together and how matters work in meetings, for example. I also got a postdoctoral researcher position at Aalto University, as, after my doctoral thesis, I stayed at Aalto and worked in the Imaging Language research group at the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering.
A degree from a good university and the networks built there carry really far. I established a lot of good friendships in my student days, and we are like a network of mentors to each other. When we see each other, we also talk about work and, without even noticing it, keep on learning more from each other.