A Day in the Life: Asha Patel, Machine Learning Research Engineer

22 June 2022 | Asha Patel

I joined Luminance in 2021 after completing both an undergraduate degree in Maths & Physics and a Master’s in Data Science & Analytics at the University of Leeds. I have always been excited by the idea of engineering new solutions with cutting-edge technology, so when I saw the opportunity to work for a market-leading AI company on a variety of challenging problems in the field of machine learning, I jumped at the chance.

Since joining Luminance as a Machine Learning Research Engineer, I have been working on Computer Vision – a field of AI dedicated to enabling computers to understand visual information such as images and videos. My work contributes to Luminance’s ability to identify and understand various structures in legal documentation, such as paragraphs and checkboxes, helping the system to perform its AI-powered contract analysis. Here’s what a typical day in the life looks like for me.


I’m based out of our new Cambridge office alongside our other teams working in research and development. Our working day starts at 9:30am and I usually spend the first part of my morning reviewing work from the previous day and mapping out my daily to-do list.


My time is currently divided between two key projects: enhancing Luminance’s checkbox detection and optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. We are constantly working to fine-tune Luminance’s ability to read the various visual formats it may encounter within contracts, so a lot of my time is spent obtaining labelled data for training models. There are plenty of publicly available models and datasets that we harness in the research team, but I then need to fine-tune these to the legal domain. This ultimately helps Luminance to perform legal-specific tasks, such as legal document review and process automation.


I spend the rest of my morning reading the latest AI research papers that have been published and finding new models to test on my own data. Our team’s job is to bridge research and industry, so we often conduct independent research and attend conferences relevant to our field. It’s always exciting to see our academic research transition into product developments, one example being Luminance’s revolutionary Traffic Light Analysis – the AI’s ability to colour-code areas of compliance and non-compliance within incoming contracts.


It’s Monday, so the whole team gets free lunch in the office! We also get free pastries on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Our flexible working model means that we all spend three days a week in the office, which everyone is happy about having spent so much time at home during the pandemic.


As I work on Computer Vision, the data that I deal with is usually in the form of images. After lunch, I’m writing code to help with the processing of these images, ranging from investigating the quality of a new dataset to generating labels that can be used to train models.


I have a Zoom call with Luminance’s Marketing team to discuss the upcoming careers fairs that I am attending. I am passionate about encouraging more women to apply for STEM roles, so I really enjoy meeting current university students and sharing my own experience. I think it’s common to feel imposter syndrome when entering a traditionally male-dominated field, but I believe it’s important not to let that discourage you from pursuing new opportunities.

My advice for women looking to get into a STEM career is to always put yourself forward when opportunities arise, even if you feel that you lack experience – there is some evidence to suggest that women are less likely to apply for roles if they don’t meet all the requirements of the job specification. For example, I initially thought that applying for this role would be a long shot as I don’t have a PhD! Now I’ve been at Luminance for nearly a year, I find it helpful to regularly reflect on what I’ve learned and achieved in my career so far and use this to feel more confident when tackling new challenges.


Every Monday, a group of us from across different teams go bouldering together after work. For the rest, it’s off to the local pub for an evening drink!

If you’re interested in finding out more about working at Luminance, visit our careers page