Congratulations to Maxim Aleksa (B.A. RLL & Computer Science, '17), who currently works as a software engineer at Apple in Cupertino, California.
Maxim (seen here) poses on the Diag with lab PI Nick Henriksen.
Maxim was hired during the lab's 2017 Proposal Development phase (shortly after he completed his BA), to work as a specialized consultant on the aesthetics and narrative behind our Africa to Patagonia Collaboratory website. He worked closely with Ishan Vashishta to develop the finer details of our website and ensure that we were explaining our collaborative approach to a broader public. During his first year at Apple, Maxim has been able to capitalize on the programming skills he acquired through the Speech Production Lab and Collaboratory research to expand in his new position, and he is now developing applications such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
Maxim has a long history working as a website developer for various projects related to humanistic initiatives at Michigan (see, for example, the Italianissimo and Don Quixote websites) and was the mastermind behind the now-famous EECS 183 website. However, he has been a website developer for our lab since he first arrived at Michigan in Fall 2013. In fact, his first job on campus was to develop online tutorials and walkthroughs for Spanish 410 (Spanish Phonetics and Phonology), a course taught by Nick Henriksen. His tutorials enabled Spanish majors to code speech data using digital resources such as Praat, and they subsequently allowed for the recruit RAs to analyze the linguistic data collected during the fieldwork trip to Patagonia in June 2014. This led to the start of the Collaboratory proposal development application (awarded in March 2017) and our subsequent project funding application (awarded in July 2017). In sum, we are all very thankful to Maxim for developing the necessary infrastructure that has enabled Michigan undergraduates to conduct research in the humanistic social sciences.
As he finishes up his first year as a software engineer at Apple, Maxim recognizes the impact of his Collaboratory experience: "Working on interdisciplinary projects opened the window into how linguistics research works. Before, I used to think that working in the Romance languages field involved mostly literature analysis, and while that is already very interesting, I have realized that there are so many more applications of humanistic majors. This also sparked my interest in natural processing, which bridges the gap between languages and computing, and between my majors, Romance Languages and Computer Science. And finally, my work in the Collaboratory afforded me the opportunity to build great connections and relationships with faculty whom I otherwise would not have gotten to know, including Nick and Lorenzo. Over time, as I started to see the results of the research taking shape, I began to understand the bigger picture of the project."
Although his current position at Apple occupies most of his time, we often consult with Maxim on certain aesthetic aspects of our website and online archive, in collaboration with Ishan Vashishta.
Best wishes to Maxim in all of his future endeavors!