TA Spotlight: Robert Forwerck

Robert Forwerck

Robert Forwerck is a TA for CS 6795: Introduction to Cognitive Science. Keep reading to learn more about Robert!

What do you do professionally?

I do not currently work a full-time job; rather, I work two part-time jobs. The first is as a student in the OMSCS program; the second is as a TA in the OMSCS program.

Prior to my enrollment in OMSCS in Fall 2021, I worked for four years at a local dry-cleaning business in the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area. Initially, my responsibilities were characterized by customer service and garment pre-processing, which involves the sorting and inspection of clothing garments prior to cleaning. However, during my time with the business, I was able to discover inefficiencies and remedy them through the development and implementation of two Windows desktop applications. Through this work I was able to teach myself the building blocks of a desktop application, acquire experience with software development through evolutionary prototyping, and foster a liking for computer science which eventually led me to OMSCS.

Why do you TA for OMSCS?

In short, I TA for OMSCS because I took CS 6795: Introduction to Cognitive Science. The course combines my two favorite academic disciplines: philosophy and computer science. As a long-time student of philosophy, I am keenly aware that every academic discipline in existence was born from organized critical thought, and thus from philosophy. What I did not realize until taking CS 6795 was how intertwined the two disciplines are currently—and in a very exciting way.

For example, consider how ubiquitously applicable Machine Learning is increasingly becoming along with how recently it solidified as an academic discipline. Now consider that Machine Learning is a result of Cognitive Science theory. What will the next big breakthrough in AI be?

What is your advice for future OMSCS students?

I have noticed that the weekly time commitments for OMSCS courses on OMSCentral are largely underestimated. Keep this in mind when choosing courses and deciding whether or not it is wise to retain a full-time job while earning an MS in CS.

One of the most common misconceptions of the program is that it is some sort of MS-lite degree, so to speak—that it is somehow designed to conform to a schedule with other full-time responsibilities. In my experience, this is not the case. Even taking one class at a time, there will be times where you will need to prioritize work and sacrifice learning.

Why do you think that anyone interested in AI should take a course in Cognitive Science?

With the exception of the KBAI course offered through OMSCS, AI courses tend to only teach the practice of creating AI agents and algorithms. Cognitive Science differs because it approaches the topic of AI from the lowest parts of its foundation by asking questions such as:

  1. What does it mean for something to be artificial?
  2. What is intelligence?
  3. What does it mean for an entity to be intelligent (use intelligence)?

It might not seem obvious, but mulling over questions such as these holds the potential to make anyone a better AI engineer by helping to solidify an understanding of what AI ought to be.

Find Robert on...

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-forwerck
Personal Website: https://robertforwerck.github.io/