Sharing do-it-yourself AI marvels makes alumnus a YouTube star
How does a computer recognize the difference between a dog, a cat and a banana?
Alex Schepelmann ’10, MS ’09, PhD, has the answer and more. In a brisk, upbeat video posted to YouTube, he explains the basics of “probalistic image classification” — computer applications that help a camera find faces in an image or that train self-driving cars to see the white lines.
He also explains to his 40,000 subscribers how they might use image classification technology to enhance their own inventions and innovations. That’s the big idea.
Schepelmann, a NASA engineer, is the creator and host of Super Make Something, a YouTube channel that shows amateurs how to create artificial intelligence projects using basic machine learning techniques. There’s some math in his instructions and algorithmic equations to fathom, but plenty of fun, too. He’s a robot wizard with the flare of an entertainer.
An immigrant from Germany, Schepelmann earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at Case and his doctorate in robotics from Carnegie Mellon.
On Case Quad, he worked with Professor Roger Quinn in the Biologically Inspired Robotics Lab and was part of the team that created an award-winning autonomous lawnmower. His master’s thesis focused on using computer vision to identify grass and obstacles in a camera stream.
Now, he’s a Robotics Engineer in the Mechanisms and Tribology Branch at the NASA Glenn Research Center, having made the leap from nearby ZIN Technologies. In his spare time, he creates content for his channel, which is based out of his home in Cleveland.
Super Make Something started as a hobby. It’s grown to reach more than 2 million total views on videos that explain 3D printing, robotics and machine learning.
“It’s a way to try to present intimidating topics about technology and programming and make them accessible to everyone,” Schepelmann said. “I like to teach. I like to explore new technology and share that knowledge. I found that the show is a great way to document my projects and things that I explore and share that with people and maybe get them interested, too.”
The viewers keep coming back, no doubt inspired by his optimistic sign-off: “Thanks again for watching, now go super make something!”
think[box] Radio feature
Hear Alex discuss his YouTube channel Super Make Something in episode 15 of think[box] Radio.