Faces of FuturU – Nuria Planell, Engineering Team Lead

A photo of Nuria

Today we’re talking to Nuria, the Engineering Team Lead in our Assessments team. Based in Barcelona, Nuria joined FuturU back in April 2023. 

In this article, Nuria shares why she feels like she’s always learning in her role, what excites her most about the future of FuturU and her predictions for the future of healthcare tech.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

I’m the Engineering Team Lead for the assessments branch of the engineering team, although data and AI probably describe my role better. I leverage new technologies to support our learners, and build automations, integrations and reports to support some of our internal processes too. 

I’m always on the lookout for new technologies that can improve how we support the training and assessment of learners – more often than not that’s AI right now.

Day-to-day, I work with tickets and in sprints for all my BAU work. I’ll read up on trends, and carve out some time to focus on thinking and analysing data to move our larger projects forward, collaborating with colleagues around the organisation.

What did you do before joining FuturU?

I initially trained as a physicist. After university, I went on to do a Masters in Mathematical Modelling on different complex systems. Back then, the data science world was less clearly defined, encompassing roles that ranged from analysing user behaviour to optimising financial processes. I got into data because it’s a more practical approach to mathematics and models – it’s less abstract. Alongside data, I learnt programming, starting with C++ in a games tech company, before switching to python and SQL for data intensive processing tasks as I moved to a Data Engineering role.

I’ve worked in startups before FuturU, but less on the technical side, more machine learning focused. Working for startups is great – you can do a lot of different things at the same time. 

One of our values is ‘Always Learning’ - do you feel like you’re always learning on the job?

Yes, for sure. Having a CTO like Steve means we never stay still on the job! If you stay still, you’ll become outdated pretty soon, so you need to have a very curious mindset to stay ahead. There’s just so much happening, and so many new things we’re trying. It can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s also one of my favourite things about the job. 

I like to stay on top of trends and fresh ideas – I subscribe to newsletters and blogs, and follow relevant organisations to stay abreast of big releases. I’ve also built up a solid network over the years – we compare approaches and share ideas on what’s worked (or not) for us. 

What excites you most about the future of FuturU?

In the short term, we’re exploring the learner’s learning path, and how we can best support them on their training journey. So we’re building a Tutor Bot that can help them acquire knowledge faster and better, and answer the questions they have in the moment. 

In the longer term, we’re changing up our approach to assessments. There’s research out there that shows that people adapt their learning based on how they know they’ll be evaluated, but more often than not, that evaluation is nothing like the real world. If we can move to more scenario-based practical learning and assessment, which mimics real world situations, our learners will be more able to apply their knowledge confidently in the workplace.

Can you tell us a little more about Tutor Bot?

We know that, as our learners go through our online courses, they might have questions at certain points, or might like to go a little deeper on a particular topic. So to help unblock them we’ve created Tutor Bot, which answers questions as they go. 

We’ve started with Epilepsy and Seizure Management, exploring the different Large Language Models (LLMs) on the market, which we then fine tuned and tailored to our content. We couldn’t just take an LLM out of the box and use it. We’ve now found a solution and are testing it internally. 

We have to be very careful with hallucinations, and have spent a lot of time considering the tone and style of the answers we’re sharing. We’ve made sure to explain acronyms, and avoid assuming a particular level of knowledge. 

The next step will be to test this out with actual learners, and then expand to other courses.

What do you love most about your role?

I’m working with very very talented people. There’s always someone that knows more about something than you do that you can learn from. It is what motivates me the most.

I really love the people I work with – while we’re all spread out working remotely, I still feel connected to them all.

My other big motivation is working on something that hasn’t been solved yet, or done before. I know it can be solved, that there’s a way of tackling the problem, and that’s very motivating. On top of that our mission is great – we are applying cutting edge technology to solve important problems for the healthcare community.

What’s the next big thing in healthcare tech?

I think we’ll see a shift towards automation and robotics, reducing manual overhead and enhancing decision making, allowing us to focus on the strategic and important tasks. 

I also think there will be a lot more interactivity between AIs, to the point we will have different AI systems interacting with each other without need of our total supervision, helping us again on performing non-essential tasks. 

Finally, I am hoping to see a lot more work done around ethics and usage of data and AI.

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