Waikato grad and data-mining expert creates internship opportunities

29 April 2021

Computer science alumna Lin-Yi Chou is creating opportunities for Waikato students at Genesis Energy.

Computer science alumna Lin-Yi Chou has come full circle – where once she was a student at the University of Waikato, she’s now well into the workforce and employing Waikato students in her role as data scientist practice lead at Genesis Energy.

Lin-Yi has been at Genesis Energy in Hamilton for close to 14 years, having started as an analyst after finishing her PhD in data mining at the University of Waikato in 2007.

When Lin-Yi was originally hired she was tasked with helping to improve the validation of energy consumption - the amount of times an electricity meter needs to be re-read - to provide accurate meter data. Lin-Yi says this was a task that suited her well.

“It was a project I was really excited to be involved in as I like numbers and data, and putting it all together to find solutions that people can use in the real world.” In this case, the result was a drastic reduction in meter readings that needed re-verification, and it is a system still in place today.

Since then, Lin-Yi has been involved in several other major projects using data to improve efficiency, including developing a methodology for producing accurate monthly gas forecasts and setting up an auto-extraction process to improve the speed of network data transfers.

Lin-Yi came to the University of Waikato after finishing her Bachelor’s degree in statistics, and Master’s in applied mathematics, at the University of Auckland. She had been told that to pursue her interests in data mining, the University of Waikato was the place to be, and now-Emeritus Professor Ian Witten the person to guide her.

Lin-Yi enjoyed studying for her PhD in data mining with Emeritus Professor Witten as her supervisor. “He was direct and straight to the point, but had a clear vision of what we could achieve,” she says.

After graduating in 2005 Lin-Yi was dismayed at the lack of relevant opportunities for people with her skillset in the Waikato region, so she set about creating her own and is now helping others to do the same at Genesis Energy.

Working alongside the University’s student industry liaison Dr Alvin Yeo, Genesis Energy now has a close relationship with the University of Waikato, with Lin-Yi hosting several computer science students as interns over the years.

“Having Waikato interns has been really beneficial for us,” says Lin-Yi. “They are enthusiastic and well-prepared, and they thrive on being given their own projects to complete and knowing they’ve made a tangible contribution to how we operate – and a few have stayed on as employees after their internships.”

Lin-Yi says she’s always looking to encourage more AI and computer scientists into roles at Genesis Energy, and sees a lot of potential for the skills in Hamilton and Waikato.

“There are definitely more opportunities around as the region is starting to stake its claim in the sector more.”

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