STEM teacher leads new machine learning course

STEM Department faculty member Luis Felipe introduced Advanced Machine Learning to the RE curriculum to give students interested in artificial intelligence and data science a cutting-edge, master's level class designed to serve as a next-level offering after Applied Data Science.
Machine learning is a fast-growing STEM field that uses data sets and computer algorithms to teach computers how to predict behavior. Felipe asks the seven students in the new class to find solutions to actual problems posted on various project sites by start-ups and established companies. The students have begun assembling portfolios that will demonstrate their proficiency managing complex, real-world challenges in a variety of fields, from marketing to medicine. 

"This is a high-level class," he said. "I'm using a master's level curriculum. The whole point is to have students building a portfolio covering a lot of different areas of the market. Already these kids are prepared to get an internship."

When Felipe arrived to Ransom Everglades in 2018, he developed the popular Applied Data Science course, which he continues to teach along with physics. One of his first students, Joseph Gross '20, won a major recognition at a scientific conference for a poster he submitted with two other students entitled “Machine Learning for Metal Identification in Water Samples Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy.”

This year, two of Gross' brothers are among those in the new class, which includes Arjun Badwal '23, Diego de Lope '23, James Furniss-Roe '23, Elliot Gross '24, Erick Gross '24, Tanner Pearson '23 and Pablo Rodriguez-Russowsky '23. One of Felipe's goals with all of his STEM courses is to have equal numbers of girls and boys. Felipe noted that more girls than boys participated in the data science course last year for the first time.

Felipe hails from Cuba, where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in nuclear physics from the Instituto Superior de Tecnologías y Ciencias Aplicadas (InSTEC). He then did five years of additional graduate work and research in physics, first in Denmark, and then at Goethe Frankfurt University in Germany, before beginning his teaching career.

Members of the Advanced Machine Learning class together attended the recent Data Science Salon Miami, a conference that attracted data scientists and data officers from a number of fields. During the one-day event, the students attended a variety of presentations and interacted with many professionals, including RE alumna and data scientist Natalya Doris '13.

"The professionals they met could not believe," he said, "that they were only high school students."
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.