Interview and Article by: Cebo Cruz

Hailey Rose is a force to be reckoned with in the ever-growing universe of technology. Interconnecting clothing and computer intelligence in her thesis, she finished her computer science degree in Prince Edward Island, Canada with honors. She is currently working on a system for psychologists in Utah, USA, kick-starting her own blog, and even helping Girls Who Code on a weekly basis.

 

From Rhythms to Algorithms

Hailey proved that at times, something out of the blue and unexpected could change one’s life forever. Heading for a degree in music, she started out college for a musical theatre degree. Deciding that it wasn’t meant for her, she took a break, then remained true to her goal by taking a degree major in music on trumpet. After a few math classes, she chose to venture into science instead. Without any idea of what she was getting herself into, she took a first-year computer science class and subsequently, discovered her passion.

I then took a first-year computer science class, not having any idea what it was, and absolutely loved it.

After that class, she switched to a major in computer science where she enjoyed most of her coding classes and in her words, “loved learning algorithms.” With this immediate inclination, she found work by developing an application on routine outcome monitoring for psychologists, funded by Dr. Scott Richards of Utah’s BYU. “It’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m gaining valuable experience and hope to learn a lot from this job!”, she indicated. In the future, she also wishes to incorporate her passion for fashion into her work, just as she did for her thesis.

Passion for Fashion

With her apparent “passion for fashion,” she brainstormed ideas to interconnect artificial intelligence and clothing for her undergraduate thesis, together with her supervisor, Dr. Andrew Godbout. “He actually came up with the idea, and I thought it was perfect,” she mentioned. “His specialty is in computer vision, so we took machine learning, computer vision, fashion, and put them together!”

Their collaboration engendered the genius project of detecting and matching clothing by utilizing convolutional neural networks. She explains that “upon receiving a photo, my project would classify it, for example, as a “shoe” using convolutional neural networks trained on shoes and other clothing items. It would then classify the image again, in a more specific way (for instance, “high heel”). Upon classifying the image we would them compare it to the other images in that specific category and try to find a close match, which actually proved to be the most difficult part.” Truly, a brilliant project!

However, nothing comes without its setbacks and challenges. “In terms of the work I did on my honors thesis for my bachelor’s degree, it was difficult how to know where to start with the computer vision aspect of my project, because cameras capture clothing in all different form,” she says. “For instance, since most clothing is deformable, a dress might look completely different depending on where it was taken and who was wearing it.”

When asked on what developments she wishes to see in the field of clothing technology, she mentioned that she is not mainly interested in clothing designed and produced by technology, but instead on what computer learning can do for the industry:

I think the possibilities are endless in terms of Virtual Reality shopping, trying on clothes via a computer, and so many other avenues that could be taken in the fashion world.

The Female Advantage

Hailey notes that being a woman has propelled her career as it engaged her with more opportunities than men in the community. However, the ever neutralizing gender barrier has been changing this system which Hailey finds “very exciting.” “I have never really felt belittled as a woman, taken advantage of, or underestimated at all in my 4 year degree or the 2 jobs I’ve had during and since I finished, which gives me a lot of hope for other women in tech!” she mentions.

However, Hailey believes that nothing comes for free. “I think the biggest thing is to believe in yourself (and for me, having faith in God), but it’s not that simple.” With that, I leave you with Hailey’s final remarks to women pursuing their own dreams:

I would say that even if you don’t get the highest mark, or the best job right away, it doesn’t mean you’re not great at it and don’t deserve amazing things. Everyone works, learns, and grows at different speeds, and if you truly love working and being involved in this field, you’ll get there. Also, work hard. Working hard, making deadlines, and persevering, are all important qualities to have going into a degree or career in computer science or technology, because it WILL be difficult. But you CAN do it!

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Cebo Cruz is a Grade 11 Student in Philippine Science High School – Main Campus, with a passion for Chemistry, History, and Geography. Aside from his school duties, he enjoys playing volleyball and badminton. Moreover, WiTech has been an outlet to express his advocacy of maximizing women’s potential to promote equality among all.

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