Meet TensorFlow community leads around the world

Posted by Joana Carrasqueira and Lynette Gaddi, Program Managers at Google

The TensorFlow community keeps growing every day, and includes many thousands of developers, educators, and researchers around the world. If you’d like to get involved with the community, there are many different organizations you can check out.

These include Special Interest Groups (SIGs), TensorFlow User Groups (TFUGs), and Google Developer Groups (GDGs). There are also many Google Developer Experts (GDEs) you can get in touch with. They’re knowledgeable about ML and help others in their community, and are a great point of contact to find future local events.

We spend a lot of time working with community leads, and in this article, we’d like to share some of their stories with you. We had the wonderful opportunity to interview several leads from different areas – including a SIG Lead, a Machine Learning GDE, and two TensorFlow User Group organizers, so you can learn about their background, how they got involved in the community, and how you can too.

TensorFlow branded banner with orange elements

Karl Lessard

TensorFlow SIG Lead for JVM

Montreal, Canada

Image of Karl Lessard

Karl has been working in software engineering and consulting for more than 20 years in various fields, including computer graphics and communications. He is now working full-time at Expedia in Montreal, focusing on delivering solutions for complex linguistic and localization challenges.

What does being a community leader mean to you?

What really matters is that all members of the group enjoy contributing to the project, and making it as fulfilling as possible for them. Because that’s what open-source is to me: a playground for grownups building something useful to the world! Being a community leader comes with a bunch of technical responsibilities, too, but for me that’s the most important thing.

How did you get involved in the TF community?

I started designing a few proposals to enhance the TensorFlow Java client, which at that time was offering minimal support for running model inference on Android devices. My proposed changes were welcomed by Google (special thanks to Asim Shankar), and I’ve submitted multiple pull requests over a couple years since then.

There was increasing general interest in supporting TensorFlow on the JVM following that, and I met the engineering team (and many others from the community) at a TensorFlow Dev summit in 2019 to suggest the idea of starting a group focusing on this topic. That’s how SIG JVM was born.

How do you contribute technically as a SIG Lead?

I still contribute to the design and the code of the project (like in the beginning), but I also review most of the pull requests, plan video calls, and make sure proposed changes are done with respect to the global vision of the project shared by other members, and they are being discussed properly and broadly.

Do you have any advice on how to get involved in the community?

If you can make it to the TensorFlow Dev/Contributor Summit, do it. That’s definitely a good place to meet people sharing the same interests as you. Also, you can get involved in the various discussions related to the topics of your interests. SIGs forums are a good place to start, and you can also get in touch with others on the new TensorFlow Forum. Finally, don’t be shy to make change proposals and/or to submit a few pull requests!

Ruqiya Bin Safi

Google Cloud GDE

Saudi Arabia

image of Ruqiya Bin Safi

Ruqiya Bin Safi is a Software Engineer that is interested in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning as well as Data Science. Ruqiya started learning Machine Learning many years ago. She seeks to spread knowledge about Machine Learning and new technologies.

What does being a community leader mean to you?

It means a responsibility I take on, a goal I’ve accomplished, and a dream I fulfill. It means that I contribute to the development of my community and helping others. To be a community leader means sharing useful knowledge so that everyone can benefit. Leadership is also a give and take: the community gives to me, and I give back to the community. It’s a cooperation. We share similar goals and interests, and vision and mission. And we seek to employ what we’ve learned to develop tools that make the world a better place.

How did you get involved in the TF community?

I’ve always loved learning new technologies and using them to solve problems. I started as a software engineer, and found machine learning increasingly interesting as I studied it, and eventually made it a focus. I got involved with the TF community through a Women Techmakers (WTM) event. I then joined a local WTM community to help others learn about ML, and later applied and was accepted into the GDE program.

How do you contribute as a ML GDE?

I love giving talks, and most of my contributions were as speaker and technical trainer through various tech talks, panel discussions, and workshops. My goal is to help and motivate people to learn more about ML. I also run a deep learning monthly workshop that aims to help participants gain foundational knowledge of common deep learning techniques as well as practical experience in building neural networks with TensorFlow. I also really enjoy mentoring for Google for Startups Accelerator MENA program as well as some hackathons, and I write articles from time to time about machine learning and TensorFlow.

Do you have any advice on how to get involved in the community?

One of the best ways is to try to learn something new, and then share what you have learned with your community through blogging or a local meetup. Love what you do, and as much as you can, find work that you enjoy – and trust in yourself as you become more active and involved.

Armel Yara

TensorFlow User Group, Organizer

Abidja, West Africa

Photo of Armel Yara

Armel is a developer and TensorFlow community leader in Francophone Africa, where he organizes and hosts developer events in multiple languages (including large events like TensorFlow Everywhere SSA), and manages machine learning projects for local business

What does being a community leader mean to you?

Being a community leader means for me sharing experiences, being available for others, and listening to their needs and expectations.

How did you get involved in the TF community?

I get involved in the TF community by sharing the latest news about the TF community on my blog and working on open source projects.

How do you contribute as a TFUG lead?

I organize events and give technical sessions at universities and online.

Do you have any advice on how to get involved in the community?

My advice to become more active and get more involved in the community is to look over the membership expectations, share projects that you have built, and use them to motivate others. Lead by example, let others know how much you enjoy what you do and showcase your work.

Nijat Zeynalov

TensorFlow User Group, Organizer


photo of Nijat Zeynalov

Nijat is a Certified TensorFlow Developer and a first year master student at University of Tartu. He’s passionate about data science and machine learning, and organizing events to help others.

What does being a community leader mean to you?

I learned about leadership by running a local community where we aimed to provide free support to anyone interested in coding. In my mind, being a community leader means to help inspire others, and also to foster a community of respect that enables and encourages contributions of others. I strongly believe that leadership can be learned with practice.

How did you get involved in the TF community?

While I was preparing for the TensorFlow Developer certificate, I found a user groups page and I thought – why not set up a local user group for our country. I understood the responsibility of being a community leader, and I contacted a few TensorFlow User Group organizers to learn more about it. Their positive feedback about the overall impression made my decision even easier and motivated me to get started, and it’s been a great experience ever since.

How do you contribute as a community organizer?

We regularly discuss the latest TensorFlow updates in the user group, and we organise “Paper Reading Meetings” where we read and discuss one deep learning paper as a group. This has been a really great way for people to share their knowledge and ask questions. Additionally, in March, as a “TensorFlow User Group – Azerbaijan”, we held the 5-hour long “TensorFlow Everywhere – 2021” event which was the country’s largest machine learning event to date.

It was a pleasure to speak with Karl, Ruqiya, Armel and Nijat (thank you again for your time and contributions!) We hope their stories inspire you to get involved, and take on a leadership role in your local community in the future. If you’d like, you can start a conversation on the TensorFlow Forum and share how you got involved in the TensorFlow Community, and meet others. And check out the top of this post for more links to user and special interest groups.

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