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UJ computer scientist and ballerina graduates with master’s dissertation on ballet pose recognition

Ms Margaux Fourie, a Lecturer at UJ’s Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering (ACSSE) recently graduated with a master’s degree in computer science. Her journey to a master’s degree in computer science was filled with unique challenges, adventures and wonderful opportunities. For instance, Ms Fourie’s postgraduate studies with the ACSSE gave her an opportunity to pursue her passion for problem-solving through computer science as well as her passion for ballet.

“As a computer science student, I have a passion for solving problems, but simultaneously I’ve always loved and intensely pursued the athletic art-form of ballet. At the start of my post-graduate studies, these two passions were introduced to one another as I began research in pose recognition using computer vision” said Margaux Fourie.

Some of the low lights of her journey included being faced with challenges such as limited datasets available for ballet, and a lack of experienced dancers available for capturing the required data.

Her highlights included being accepted into an American professional ballet company’s program.

“Being accepted was a dream come true. With the blessing of the Faculty of Science, I was afforded the opportunity to go train with this touring company that I’ve long admired. For nine months I was based in Jackson, Mississippi, USA where I got to dance alongside a group of extremely talented people. It was an incredibly enriching experience that involved tours to Mexico and Cuba along with opportunities to reach out to communities through dance. On top of that, I was surrounded by gifted dancers every day, which enabled me to capture a complete dataset for my research” added Margaux Fourie.

Upon returning to South Africa, Margaux had the daunting task of completing her dissertation, with only a few months remaining to the official deadline.

She said, “it was a challenging, yet extremely rewarding process to write-up the research that took me on an adventure of a lifetime. The unwavering support I received from family and the Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering made it possible to complete the study in time. I am grateful to UJ, the Faculty of Science and the Academy for generously granting me the opportunities that came along with the pursuit of this qualification”.

Margaux ‘s master’s graduation was scheduled for 1 April 2020. However, it had to be conducted virtually due to the global pandemic. She jokingly pointed out that her graduation date (which fell on April fool’s day) wasn’t particularly in my favour.

“True to that day’s reputation, my graduation could not take place due to the national lockdown. But I am pleased to say that I still graduated virtually and got to celebrate the event with colleagues and loved ones digitally.” Ms Margaux Fourie

Ms Fourie has been excelling in ballet and her computer science studies for many years.

For instance, she was selected to compete in the final round at the South African leg of the global 2016 Microsoft Imagine Cup alongside her project team.

 

Team Mealme Large

They described their project as

“Money in exchange for goods. The way cavemen did it. Just a bit simpler; and with fewer loincloths. Entering this century is lighter without the burden of physical cash, so we let you buy food vouchers that can be redeemed at any physical (affiliated) store within the UJ Student Centre. Cool things happen once you sign up, whether you be a student or a store. Team MealMe competes in the Innovation category of the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2016.”

 

 

Margaux’s Project Team (“Team MealMe”): Left to Right: Mr Lusani Tshigabe, Ms Margaux Fourie, Mr Mark Garber, Mr Chris van de Sande

She was also a finalist and runner-up at the UJ Can You Dance? competition and a Top Achiever in Informatics during her undergraduate studies at UJ.

Margaux Fourie Uj Dance 2

 

Left to Right: Margaux Fourie, Tumelo Letsheko and Devon Peterson

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