Meet the Researcher: Mike Connolly

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Mike is a CONFIRM PhD student based in Limerick Institute of Technology

“It’s impossible to be bored when you’re researching something that you’re genuinely interested in.”

Tell us a bit about your research...

I’m a PhD student at Limerick Institute of Technology. I’m working on developing an Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology for use in manufacturing environments. An ASR technology processes a voice command, to carry out some task. Virtual assistants such as Amazons Alexa would be a good example of ASR in action. Alexa processes a voice command to carry out a task, such as telling you the time.

ASR systems can be used to control manufacturing processes, however, the effectiveness of these systems is greatly reduced when operating in very noisy environments. Manufacturing floors can be quite noisy, so for my project I need to figure out how to develop an ASR system that is highly effective in noisy environments.

What did you study as an Undergraduate?

I studied Industrial Biochemistry at the University of Limerick (UL) for my undergraduate. That’s far removed from the field I’m in now and I’ve changed paths a few times, having since studied Chemical Engineering and Software Development (also at UL). It took me a while to get there, but I finally found my passion in software and computer science.

What made you decide to go into research?

I’ve always enjoyed learning new things. That’s a large part of what you do when take on a research role, which is why I’ve been drawn towards it. It’s impossible to be bored when you’re researching something that you’re genuinely interested in.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD Student?

For my project, I’m developing a technology that is built using Artificial Intelligence (AI). I find AI fascinating and I really enjoy learning about diverse, state-of-the-art AI technologies every day. Also, I love programming, so it’s great to have the opportunity to apply my learning to the development of interesting software.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about a career or research in STEM?

In either case, choose to study/research something that you are passionate about. It’s difficult to succeed at something when your heart’s not in it.

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