Charles Rutherford Ildstad
Geoscience, management consulting
Work in five-year integrated master’s program, NTNU
What factors brought you to the Advanced Study Program?
My studies, and my career goals, are focused on the intersection of energy exploration and the business world, and MIT offered a perfect combination of relevant offerings. The earth science programs have a level of technical detail that was unavailable at my home university, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). And the business and economics-oriented classes are very complementary to my career goal - to be part of the increasing use of new technologies like Big Data and machine learning in primary industries like raw material exploitation, and help enhance value creation, improve human conditions, and implement more environmentally friendly practices. NTNU doesn’t have a formal exchange program with MIT, but the Advanced Study Program provided a very flexible and practical way for me to spend a year at the Institute. The time spent with world-class professors and students allowed me to develop myself academically in a whole new way, and I also found the US very welcoming and a good fit for my personality.
What's different about your professional life post-ASP?
My life has taken a very interesting turn. After returning to Norway, I’ve found that the technical skills and competencies I gained have made me very sought-after in my industry. In particular, my knowledge from the Special Seminar in Machine Learning enabled me to work for two different energy exploration companies over the summer; that would not have happened without my ASP experience. I’ve also been able to get a job with a consulting firm, where I focus on management consulting, and hope to transition into specializing in improvements driven by machine learning. I am starting my final project and writing my Master’s thesis on machine-learning applications in the exploration, mapping, and development of a deep marine sulfide deposit, with valuable guidance from a professor I worked with at MIT. I also learned a lot about American culture and about myself, and made lasting friendships. I’m very excited by my current prospects, and grateful for the opportunity I was given.