Mentor Community Spotlight: Suneel Marthi

Since I do mentor folks in the open source community on several projects, it was natural that I accept the Coursera mentorship offer

Our spotlight this week is on Suneel Marthi . Suneel is a Mentor for Machine Learning: Regression and Machine Learning: Clustering and Information Retrieval by Univ. of Washington and Neural Networks for Machine Learning from the Univ. of Toronto

Share something about yourselfSuneel Marthi

I live in Ashburn, VA (Washington DC Metro area) and am a Member of Apache Software Foundation, Committer on several Machine Learning projects like Apache Mahout, Apache PredictionIO, Apache Pirk, Apache Streams, as well as Senior Principal Engineer in the Office of CTO, Red Hat Inc.

What was your first Coursera course, how did you find out about it and why did you decide to take it?

My first course was Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning class in October 2011 (much before the launch of Coursera).

This was the first time in the world that a MOOC had happened online!

What’s your favorite Coursera course and why?

My favorite Coursera course is Neural Networks for Machine Learning – I did this course back in Fall of 2012 when it was first offered and Prof. Hinton has a very interesting way of simplifying complicated theory.

How did you decide to become a Mentor?

I was approached by Coursera staff to mentor the Univ. of Washington Machine Learning: Regression course. Since I do mentor folks in the open source community on several projects; it was natural that I accepted the Coursera request and decided to become a mentor.

What would be your number one tip to give to a new Mentor just starting out?

My number one tip for new mentors is to be patient and keep calm when faced with seemingly naive questions.

Are you a part of any communities outside of Coursera?

I am a member of Apache Software Foundation, and a Co-Organizer of several local Big Data meetups in Washington DC Metro.

Is there anything else you think the Coursera community would be interested to know about?

Sometimes it so happens that you actually run into someone you had been helping on Coursera forums. This happened to me recently on the Univ. of Washington – Machine Learning: Clustering and Information Retrieval course.

I was with my family having dinner at an Indian Restaurant in Schoneberg area of Berlin, Germany back in Oct 2015. I overheard a conversation between 2 gentlemen seated at the next table about Coursera’s Machine Learning class by Andrew Ng and one of them happened to be a student pursuing a Comp Science Masters in Berlin. I jumped into the conversation with the 2 gentlemen and we exchanged our emails.

Almost a year later in August 2016, I was very actively helping out students on Univ. of Washington – Clustering and Information Retrieval course since I was one of the first few to complete the course much ahead of the others. One of the guys on the course forums happened to be the gentleman I met in Berlin on that night of October 2015. I completely forgot about that night in Berlin, but he reached out to me thanking me for all the mentoring help and reminded me of that night in Berlin when we met at the Indian Restaurant.

Its always a pleasure when you get to meet someone in person that you had been working with online for a while!