During a visit to Nepal six years ago, Columbia University professor Sameer Maskey handpicked three students from engineering schools across Kathmandu who were able to solve a mathematical equation. The three went on to become the core of Fusemachines, a global company that aims to democratise artificial intelligence (AI) through education and software solutions.
Headquartered in New York, Fusemachines has since opened branches in Canada, UK and the Dominican Republic to develop intelligent software solutions that have transformed brands and businesses around the world. One of its biggest operations is in Nepal, Fusemachines employs 100 top Nepali software engineers who work on projects that use AI applications in fields ranging from telecommunications and banking to hospitals and governance.
Unlike other back office companies that work on outsourced software development, Fusemachines is a school in itself, training engineers while coming up with product solutions.
“We employ senior engineers and industry experts with PhDs along with upcoming engineers, who work together to solve client-specific problems though AI,” explains Sumana Shrestha who heads Fusemachines’ global operations and strategy. “Such collaborative approach allows young talent to continuously learn and grow.”
Following Maskey’s vision, Fusemachines tries to make AI accessible to everyone through education, which is why it initially offered training fellowships and then, to meet the demand for engineers, launched AI Shikshya — a year-long, in-house training program.
“With our own proprietary platform and content we have partnered with engineering colleges in Kathmandu to offer AI,” says Shrestha. “The program is a blend of online and on-site, the course material is not too academic, is industry focused and instructors are seasoned engineers up to date with new algorithms.”
The company also has its own AI schools, open to professionals who want to grow their business or anyone interested. Fusemachines also offers a foundation course, open to high school graduates. A year-long, micro-degree program consisting of four major courses — including machine learning, deep thinking, natural language processing and computer vision — will be the next step.
“In school we were always presented with clean data sets to work on but that is rarely the case on the job. But this year-long training program gets people ready to take on real-life problems and provide AI solutions,” says Rojesh Shikharkar, engineer at Fusemachines Nepal and a post-grad at Pulchok Engineering Campus.
Apart from training, Fusemachines has given engineers who would otherwise have migrated to work in the US and Europe an opportunity to find meaningful work in Nepal.
Says Shrestha: “If you create opportunities here, people might actually stay, and once we have mass education in artificial intelligence, companies here will start adopting and see the value of AI products, ensuring more opportunities at home.”