resources Article

An interview with Omer Baddour, Simudyne intern

We spoke to Omer Baddour, who is interning at Simudyne as part of his degree in Computer Science and Philosophy at Columbia University, about his time with the company.

“I think the best thing about being an intern at Simudyne is the appreciation you feel from your peers as a result of your work. There is no busywork here – everything you do benefits someone, or something. As a result, there is a real sense of community.

Each day begins with a stand-up – everyone gathers and shares what they are working on. People often jump in and offer their help or other useful resources, which is huge since basically everyone has a Masters degree or a PhD. In other words, they are all extremely knowledgeable and hard-working, yet somehow, everyone also has the humility to adopt both a teacher and a student mentality.

To give you an idea of how much I learnt here, on my first day, I made a Word document where I wrote a list of all of the things I had learnt – by the end of the first week, it was thirteen pages long. Thirteen. And I had spent my fourth day away from my laptop, representing Simudyne at an event where I was attending talks and teaching potential clients about agent-based modelling! The other days of the week, I was learning what each team within Simudyne does to help me choose where I wanted to focus my internship. I read numerous papers about agent-based modelling, its applications and calibration, and discussed what I learnt with engineers and product analysts. This also translated into utility for Simudyne – I created a PowerPoint and script to teach people about agent-based modelling from scratch. Additionally, I attended a presentation by the sales and marketing team to learn about their objectives and strategies, which materialised in the showing of their new website design.

I spent the next couple of weeks learning how to build agent-based models with Simudyne’s SDK and implementing two models described in biology papers. Each day, I would work independently for a few hours, and then spend a couple of hours with one of Simudyne’s simulation engineers. It was perfect – he has a background in biomedical science and has built several models before, so he helped me navigate the biology and SDK, and I was able to use my computer science background to give him a deeper understanding of Java programming. Again, the process was beneficial to Simudyne because it was used to refine the resources provided to Simudyne’s SDK users. Our mutual learning and the symbiotic relationship I had with Simudyne was extremely motivating for me – I really felt like I had an important role in their team.

My fourth and final week arrived far faster than I had expected. It consisted of another event, where again I had the opportunity to attend lectures and present Simudyne’s services to people, finishing off my models, continuing research into the usage of agent-based models in the Health and Life Sciences space, presenting my models to dozens of agent-based model enthusiasts, and attending a hackathon for calibrating agent-based models.

In summary, I have learnt unimaginable amounts of useful information during my time here. I am a far more proficient, versatile programmer, a *statistically* significantly better statistician, and have a much deeper grasp of marketing and sales operations. I look forward to applying my novel perspectives to my future, which now has infinitely more direction. Busy with a purpose – it has been a pleasure to be a part of the Simudyne team.”

– Omer Baddour – Software Engineer & Product Analyst Intern 

Chloe Hibbert