From practising Japanese in Salzburg to working in Tokyo
Machine learning is Christina’s specialty. She likes to discover new things. A member of SKIDATA’s innovation team, Christina appreciates the agile workflow—and her colleague’s support.
Learning is what Christina loves to do. “Learning is really important to me,” she says. “I like to read deeper and deeper into new topics, and to discover new things”. Is it any wonder that Christina joined SKIDATA’s Concept Engineering Team as a follow Learning Engineer in August 2021? Yes, actually, because Christina intended to follow a completely different career path and was just about to start her career in science. That there are few women in her field has never bothered her.
“As a student, I happened to attend a lecture on bioprocess informatics,” the young engineer remembers. “I was immediately excited about what I could learn—not only about biology but also about equipment and processes”. Bioprocess informatics is a broad field of study that combines science, computer science and engineering. During her bachelor’s degree at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences in Freising, Christina completed a semester-long internship in the medical field in Sydney. She did her bachelor’s thesis in research and development at Audi. “I applied my knowledge in medical data, but also in image recognition,” she explains. “I found the variety exciting”.
After her bachelor’s degree, Christina went to Linz for her master’s degree in bioinformatics with a focus on machine learning. “I just wanted to know more about the subject,” she explains. She continued to work in research and development for Audi on the side, before completing her master’s degree with a thesis on machine learning theory. As a research assistant at the Institute for Machine Learning in Linz, she began a doctoral thesis but dropped out after a year and a half. “I really enjoyed the theory, but I realized at some point that I was missing out on something,” Christina says as she explains her reasoning. Pure theory wasn’t enough for her. “I like to combine theory and practice, and to work on both sides. That’s why I joined SKIDATA—because I do exactly that here, and I can work on the innovation team”. With her colleagues, Christina develops new ideas and concepts for solutions, then tries them out. “And if it goes well, an innovative product emerges. So I’m always working with the latest technologies”. At SKIDATA, Christina can apply her knowledge in different ways to create something new. “That’s exactly what I was missing as a doctoral candidate”.
It was Christina’s father–a computer scientist–who brought the company to her attention. “My father was on a tour of SKIDATA. While there, he learned about the innovation team’s agile workflow. He knew that I would like that—and he was right,” says Christina. At SKIDATA, machine learning has a number of applications, like license plate recognition, for example. “But you can also do much more theoretically, of course,” she says, like in automated parking or intelligent access systems, for example. “There are still so many possibilities”.
Being one of just a few women in college and now at a technology company “hasn’t made much of a difference” to Christina, she says. “I’ve always been really lucky that the people I’ve worked with broke free from those traditional roles”. Of course, she says, there have been stupid comments about women in tech. “Then, I just fight back,” she says. “I have never been in a situation where I didn’t feel comfortable. I always had and still have a great team behind me.
She also finds the flexibility of SKIDATA “really super”. She says, “I can arrange my own working hours and have the option of working from home”. Flexibility is important to Christina—she likes to start work early. When she’s not working, she’s outdoors and often on the move. “I like to go hiking, or skiing and ski touring now”. That’s why SKIDATA’s headquarters in Grödig is ideal. Christina also enjoys passing on knowledge in her free time. “I tutored in science topics for a very long time, and would like to do it again because I’m fascinated by learning”.