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Manufacturer celebrates a boost in business thanks to DMU's MSc


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Business has “never been better” for a specialist digital magnification manufacturer, thanks to the skills and knowledge one of its directors learned while studying at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU). 

Louis Ryan, Research and Development Director for Ash Technologies, completed an MSc in Intelligent Systems and Robotics at DMU in 2021, after witnessing a rapid rise in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in his industry. 

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Louis Ryan completed an MSc in Intelligent Systems and Robotics


Since graduating, Louis has transferred his knowledge and helped Ash Technologies to develop new products, bring in new customers and grow the company’s workforce. 

“I have worked in this industry for over 30 years and in the last few years AI has been getting more and more popular,” he explained. “I knew I needed to upskill so that our business could keep up with the changes we were seeing.” 

Ash Technologies manufacture a wide range of digital inspection devices that help businesses (particularly pharmaceutical, medical and aerospace businesses) to ensure their products are as accurate as possible, offering tracking and traceability. 

“Before joining DMU I was aware of the new technologies cropping up in our industry but that was it,” continued Louis. “I had no idea how these technologies worked or how we would use them for the devices we were producing.” 

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As a long-distance student, Louis completed his course online over three years, learning about the various models of computational intelligence and developing techniques and methods needed to tackle problems that cannot be solved through traditional approaches to computing. 

Dr Fabio Caraffini, Associate Professor (Research and Innovation) in Computer Science at DMU, led a significant modernisation of the course by updating the programme and proposing new modules that explore contemporary AI paradigms, such as Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing. 

He also created the Computational Intelligence Optimisation (CIO) module, which integrates computational intelligence and concepts of biological evolution into algorithms for solving optimisation problems that could not be solved by exact methods. 

Dr Caraffini said: “From the moment Louis started studying with us, I could see his potential. It can be difficult to balance a MSc with a full-time job but Louis showed he was committed from the start and his hard work has paid off, as the business he works for is now reaping the benefits of his degree.” 

Louis said: “I had some absolutely fantastic lecturers during my time at DMU but I have never seen anyone go above and beyond like Fabio. I loved the course and I really loved his module, it was such an eye-opener and like discovering a whole new world. 

“I particularly liked that the course was project-based. It meant I got to get my hands dirty and learn new concepts which I was then able to implement into the business I work for.” 

While undertaking his Master’s degree, Louis helped launched a new product range of inspection systems that use CIO to optimise measurement accuracy and colour reproduction for customers. 

“By using AI and CIO for our devices, we are able to show customers things they have never seen before,” continued Louis. “For example, using a standard computer to inspect a medical syringe, you might find say 20-25 defects. Now, we can find 35-40. Using this technology means we can give much better accuracy. 
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Louis used his MSc to help develop new products for Ash Technologies 

“Since incorporating the skills I learned at DMU into the business and developing new products, the response has been fantastic – we have even hired six new engineers to help meet demand.  

“We are moving in a whole new direction because of my time at DMU and I have no doubt 100% of our inspection systems will include AI in the future."

Posted on Tuesday 22nd June 2021

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