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Industry Insights is an invited guest series dedicated to connecting alumni and industry professionals with the UNT community. The collaboration between the College of Information, its three departments (Information Science, Learning Technologies, and Linguistics) and the UNT Career Center is designed to help students explore professions in their field of study. Each semester will feature guests who will focus on careers in one of our seven areas of study

2024 Spring Events


Andre Davison

April 25, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. (CST) - Andre Davison

Abstract: Do you want to learn how to forge a career in law librarianship? Our guest will share insight into how he managed to end up as Director of the law library serving the largest county in Texas. Andre will give advice on organizations he joined, service he provided, and steps along his career path that culminated in his latest and greatest professional achievement.

Speaker Bio:  UNT alumnus, Andre Davison, has a diverse background having started out working in law libraries while in school (M.S. Information Science 2014 with a Graduate Academic Certificate in Digital Content Management), dreaming of being a lawyer, and eventually becoming interested in information management, information technology and information systems. That has led him where he is today as Director of the Harris County Robert W. Hainsworth Law Library. Andre is also a board member of the American Association of law Libraries.
Previously he was at Orrick, where he was Research and Information Services Operations Manager, managing a team that onboarded employees, evaluated and managed the lifecycle of electronic resources, oversaw document delivery, and provided technical assistance, until June 2023 after leaving Blank Rome, where he held the positions of Electronic Services Librarian and Research Technology Manager.

Interviewer Bio: Emily is a first-year graduate student studying Library Science with a concentration in Law Librarianship. Additionally, she holds a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is especially interested in exploring how these fields intersect in the legal system. Currently, she works with K-12 students as a writing and humanities tutor and hopes to transition to supporting students in higher education upon completing her degree. 

Archive


View archived videos of past guest speaking events (formerly known as CODE: Career Opportunities Direction Exploration)

Darrin Miller

February 6, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. (CST) - Darrin Miller

  • Speaker: Darrin Miller, Machine Learning Data Linguist at Amazon
  • Topic: Forging a Career as a Machine Learning Data Linguist
  • Interviewers: Sara Dalanaj
  • Sponsor: SLANT

Abstract: Darrin had always felt connected to languages; he had taken Spanish and German, done well, and enjoyed it. In 2014 he took Intro to Linguistics with a visiting professor and loved it so much that he changed his major to Linguistics. After graduating with his MA, he worked at Uhaul while also contracting his annotation skills out to AI marketplaces like Appen, Lionbridge, TELUS International, and DefinedCrowd, eventually making the switch to full-time contracting. Being a freelancer afforded him a variety of experience in annotation, such as tagging linguistic data for machine learning and converting machine written language into human language through data cleaning to be reprocessed by the machine for understanding the data. Since 2022 he has been part of Amazon’s team transcribing a large lexicon of words in a variety of languages using X-SAMPA and applying his knowledge of phonology to help improve and maintain Amazon's voice models and automatic speech recognition abilities. Using his own experience as a platform, Darrin can speak to what it takes for students to transition into a rewarding career.

Speaker Bio: Darrin is a Linguist, enjoying working remotely, with experience annotating linguistic data of varying capacities, primarily phonemic and textual. He graduated from UNT’s B.A. Linguistics program in 2015 and went on for UNT’s M.A. in Linguistics, finishing in 2018. Darrin works at Amazon as a Machine Learning Data Linguist, where he is part of the Alexa Data Services department working with engineers to transcribe spoken data using the phonetic alphabet and his knowledge of phonology. Due to his work, Alexa will be better equipped to understand when spoken to by people with nonstandard dialects. To accomplish this, he improves TTS and ASR models for Alexa and other voice-based Amazon products through phonemic transcription by contributing to machine learning training data and repairs broken transcriptions for direct fixes of tokens “spoken” by Alexa among other priorities. In his free time, he also plays violin, performing with the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra, and knits fabulous creations. (https://www.facebook.com/dmknits)

Interviewer Bio: Sara has been an invested writer and researcher in all three decades of her life, and a linguist who just graduated at the University of North Texas. Her research interests are focused on Morpho-Syntax and the Information Theory approach to language data analyses. She speaks Tosk Albanian as her native language, and a few others which compelled her to study Linguistics. 


André Mendes

February 26, 2024 at 11:30 a.m. (CST) - André Mendes

  • Speaker: André Mendes, Chief Information Officer for Tarrant County
  • Topic:  Innovation and Personal Responsibility in the Age of Information 
  • Sponsor: Data Visualization and Extreme Reality Lab (DVXR)
  • Hosted at Discovery Park, Room K150 and Zoom

Abstract: André Mendes, who retired as Commerce Department Chief Information Officer at the end of 2023 and joined Tarrant County, Texas local government, emigrated to the U.S. from Portugal at age 17 with $300 to his name. The following topics will be discussed:

  • How innovation intersects with the development of technology
  • Taking personal responsibility as a way to grow and become successful
  • Seeing opportunity and grasping it in the age of technology

Speaker Bio: Recently Andre has taken a new role as CIO of Tarrant County, Texas after retiring from the US Department of Commerce, where he had worked since August of 2019. There, he had overall responsibility and oversight of all technology systems at the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) and its associated Bureaus.

Prior to DOC, Mr. Mendes spent eight years at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) in various executive roles including CEO, COO, CIO, CTO and CFO. During his time at USAGM, Mr. Mendes managed overall Agency transformation generating $360 million in savings from 2010 through 2018 through aggressive global technology and facilities optimization with projected 10-year savings in excess of half a billion dollars ($503M). In that timeframe, USAGM Global weekly audiences grew 78% (165-278M).

Mr. Mendes is a member of the CIO Hall of Fame (Class of 2021), a recipient of the 2011 Milton F. Clogg Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from Montgomery College, the Chairman of the Capitol Technology University Board of Trustees and has received multiple industry awards including an MIT award for IT Innovation, the 2023 Public Sector CIO of the Year by the Global Leadership Institute, the 2021 Top 150 Global Transformation Executives from Constellation Research, 2020, 2021 and 2022 FedScoop 50 Federal Leadership Awards, 2020, 2021 and 2022 50 Best Bosses In Federal IT, the 2005 Technology Leadership Award from Broadcasting and Cable Magazine and the Top 100 Hispanic Executives in IT Award every year between 2009 and 2019.


Andrea Caraway

March 26, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. (CST) - Aundrea Caraway

  • Speaker: Aundrea Caraway, Online Student Experience Manager
  • Topic: How to Become the Best Candidate for Roles in Education that Require Technological Expertise
  • Moderator: Astrid Quiroga Sanchez
  • Interviewer: Eugene Yeoh

Abstract: Aundrea will discuss a variety of opportunities that exist in the area of educational technology in student affairs, from instructional design to planning and delivering top-notch virtual events to best enhance an online student’s educational experience.  Aundrea speaks from over 7 years of experience working with students in leadership roles, coaching and mentoring, and designing e-learning.

Speaker Bio:  Aundrea has a background in business with a BS in Accounting Control Systems and an MBA, both from UNT. She has worked at UNT in Orientation and Transition Programs as Assistant Director since 2018, but she recently transitioned to the new role of Online Student Experience Manager for the Division of Student Affairs. This transition was facilitated by Aundrea’s most recent academic accomplishment: a Master of science in Learning Technologies (2017).  With over 10 years of experience working with college students in a variety of roles, she designs engaging teaching and training experiences for a variety of topics for both in person and online delivery. She believes that learning should be fun, hands-on, and improve performance whether synchronous or asynchronous. Aundrea is the 2024 winner of the UNT Digital Innovation Award, which honors staff members who fuel innovation and digital transformation at UNT.

Moderator Bio: Astrid Quiroga is an eLearning developer and instructional designer with over five years of experience working in both corporate and academic environments. Astrid is doing a master’s degree in Learning Technologies and works as a Graduate Assistant in the Online Student Department at the University of North Texas. Some of Astrid’s professional interests include creating engaging online learning experiences, providing training on a variety of digital tools, improving online student engagement, and fostering positive emotions in online learning environments.

Interviewer Bio:  Eugene Yeoh is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Learning Technologies Department. He is a multidisciplinary professional with diverse industry experience, but his main passions are healthcare and education. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry, a Master's in Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Management.

Eugene has about ten years of higher education experience and has effectively taught both undergraduate and graduate levels, fostering an engaging learning environment. His strength is bridging the gap between theoretical textbook concepts and practical, real-world applications. He enjoys helping students connect academic knowledge with tangible, industry-specific experiences, preparing them for the challenges of the professional world. Additionally, he is passionate about learning and embracing technology and is particularly drawn to the vast potential of AI in education.