Advisor Feature: Damien Thioulouse, Asurion

Edited Ashley Villanueva

Damien Thioulouse, Senior Data Scientist at Asurion, received an honorable mention for the 2019 MEng Capstone Industry Mentorship Award at the 2019 Berkeley MEng Capstone Showcase. The award recognizes the Capstone advisor who fosters intellectual independence, provides project support, and furthers professional development.

We asked Damien questions about his experience as an industry Capstone advisor and here’s what we learned.


What is your advising philosophy?

My philosophy is to give objectives, not tasks. If more guidance is needed, give sub-objectives.

What was the most memorable moment with your team?

We went for dinner after the showcase to celebrate their accomplishments!

What’s unique about Berkeley MEng students compared to students from other universities?

Learn and adapt quickly as well as demonstrate professionalism in project materials.

What led you to propose an MEng Capstone project?

Sundar Kuppuswamy, Asurion’s Chief Data Scientist, gave me this opportunity and we were able to frame interesting problems for the students.

How did you go about recruiting your team?

I prioritized diversity in field of study and skillset to foster innovation and fresh thinking. I also looked for initial coding experience and ability to work under undefined requirements. I made sure project’s objective were aligned with student’s learning objectives.

What advice would you give to industry partners who’ll be advising a Capstone team in the future?

Be aware that project materials may need to be shared to individuals outside the project team which may have implications on legal aspects and team timeline for deliverables. Set up a collaborative work environment where you can provide feedback as needed and not have to rely only on weekly meetings. This will accelerate iterations.

How will your project be different next year? What are you planning on doing different next year?

Next year’s projects are in the process of being defined.

How did the Capstone team advance this technology? What was their major accomplishment? How can next year’s team continue the work?

The use-cases the team tackled are highly relevant to Asurion’s business. Some of their work may be adapted and incorporated in Asurion’s processes, other parts of their work could constitute a foundation for another team to build on.


About Damien’s Capstone team:

Improving Customer Experience using Machine Learning

Our AI can understand your inquiries using Natural Language Processing
Team: Felix Ren [IEOR], Jinlin He [IEOR], Zihang Pan [IEOR], Pierre-Louis Missler [CEE], Reehan Shah [IEOR]
Project description: Understanding and predicting how difficult or complex a customer support question can be and also being able to determine when certain topics are about to spike up is a very interesting problem as it can help us be proactively ready to provide a great experience for our customers. Our team is disrupting this problem space by using advanced Natural Language Processing techniques and Neural Networks.


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Berkeley Master of Engineering

Content hub for UC Berkeley’s Master of Engineering Program. Explore the many ways our students, alumni, and faculty are contributing to thier field.

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