[2022-04-15] Dr. William Wu, CEO, Quantitative Engineering Design, "Bringing the Hacker Spirit to Global Development"

Poster:SHIH-YU(ERINE) PAIPost date:2022-04-08
Title: Bringing the Hacker Spirit to Global Development
Date: 2022-04-15 3:00pm-4:10pm
Speaker: Dr. William Wu, CEO, Quantitative Engineering Design
Hosted by: Prof. Chi-Sheng (Daniel) Shih
Why does the world need yet another software engineer?
I will retrace my struggles to answer this question, from the perspective of a Taiwanese-American born in the 1980s. While there is no shortage of work opportunities in computer science, few are worth doing. I will describe my own tempestuous journey to discover the spellbinding field of international development, which challenges us to strengthen the health and food security of developing countries, and attempt to positively affect the lives of one-third of the human population --- 2.5 billion people --- who earn less than 2 USD per day and are fighting relentlessly to survive. While it is commonly believed that such work should be delegated to politicians and doctors, computer scientists and engineers in fact have monumental roles to play. This thesis will be demonstrated through a portfolio of examples and first-hand technical projects, including tracking malaria and covid-19; delivering HIV antiretrovirals to remote populations; in-situ sensors for environmental health; and mapping farmlands at national scale, all facilitated using software engineering, mechatronics, and artificial intelligence. We conclude with some ideas from Chinese philosophy that provide the rationale for our social enterprise, Quantitative Engineering Design (QED), which pursues the Sustainable Development Goals in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Global Fund, and the Gates Foundation.
Dr. William Wu is CEO of Quantitative Engineering Design (QED.ai), a mission-driven firm working in global health and food security. Dr. Wu grew up in the USA as the son of first-generation Taiwanese immigrants, and qualified for welfare lunches in high school. Trained both as a researcher and as an engineer, Dr. Wu's team builds data systems and A.I. used by thousands of medical clinics and agricultural agencies across the Global South, including Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nepal. Example projects include surveillance of HIV / malaria / covid-19 through automated transcription of handwritten medical registers (ScanForm), and digital mapping of land coverage and soils at national scale. Prior to working in global development, Dr. Wu developed scientific computing solutions for many organizations ranging from bioinformatics research centers to computer vision startups, and previously worked as a telecommunications engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Together he brings +15 years of experience in scientific computing and helping organizations scale their operations. Dr. Wu has been featured in The Gates Notes as one of Bill's Goalkeepers, in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. Today he directs QED’s mission to empower data systems and information transparency in developing countries, and strives to build a culture of pragmatic innovation, informed by working and living in East Africa. He earned his B.S. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley, and M.S. in Mathematics and Ph.D. Electrical Engineering from Stanford. His hobbies include drawing, rollerblading, chess, and 双节棍. His Mandarin language skills may be comparable to a four year-old in Taiwan, at best.
Last modification time:2022-04-08 PM 3:52

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