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We caught up with entrepreneur and recent graduate, Markus Beissinger ’13, who has made strong bonds with his brothers, and despite living in San Francisco, he continues to keep in touch. Though he’s new to the alumni experience, he feels a sense of gratitude for the alumni support during his time at the chapter and hopes to one day give back to the chapter, just as those before him did.

Markus received his BS in Economics, Operations & Information Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship in 2013 and received his Master of Science in Engineering in 2014. He is the Founder and CEO of Vitruvian Science, a startup in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Here, he shares some insight into his work and his Sigma Nu experience.

Q: Can you explain you’re working on for people who aren’t familiar with the Artificial Intelligence field?
A: “I’m working to create web developer tools for data scientists to build and debug visually what’s going on under the hood. These tools will make it easier and faster to create the algorithms. Right now, it can take a week to a month to develop a new algorithm. With the new tools, it’ll take a day to a week.

The algorithms I’m working on are what power most services we use now-a-days, like speech recognition that’s used in Google voice, Google Translate, Image Search—all those things are powered by algorithms. It’s pretty general as far as the applicability.

The specific algorithms are known as deep learning, and they work in a modular fashion. My visual tool for building them is actually dragging and dropping these layers together kind of like Legos. You can connect them up visually to make the algorithm instead of having to program the math behind it.”

Q: Despite being a recent grad, you’ve really hit the ground running and you’re confident. What do you owe that to and did your involvement in Sigma Nu play any part?
A: “I had another startup in college so that gave me experience to go and create another startup as opposed to working for a larger company. As far as Sigma Nu, a lot of the time I spent developing the first startup wasn’t with Sigma Nu members, but was during the time I was pledging.

So, I learned a lot about how to manage the time and commitment that’s necessary for a startup. Now I have a lot more time than I did in college, so it’s actually easier. My first startup was an athletic clothing company called Osus, Inc., and we developed a new type of material that is heavier. We added metal into it, so instead of wearing a weighted vest and running around, you wear this heavy sweatshirt and get extra weight training while moving around. It’s meant to be an alternative to weighted vests because they concentrate weight points on your joints.”

Q: Where you do yourself in ten years? What’s the ultimate payoff for you?
A: “My ultimate goal is to be leading a very large company developing intelligence, going toward general intelligence. It will take longer than 10 years for sure for general intelligence, but there will be stepping stones along the way.”

Q: What’s the difference between general and Artificial Intelligence?
A: “Right now, the artificial intelligence algorithms are very domain-specific. One algorithm can’t answer questions about text as well as do other things like a person can. Part of the goal for Artificial Intelligence is to reach the point of general intelligence where you have one algorithm that can learn all the extra tasks and be able to perform almost as a human does, switching between what you need to know and having memory. It’s very early on in that research, but I think it’s doable in our lifetime.”

Q: Why did you join Sigma Nu in the first place and what made you choose Sigma Nu over other fraternities on campus?
A: “Well, actually I wasn’t planning on joining a fraternity, but my closest friends during freshman year hung out with some Sigma Nu brothers, and I really liked the guys. We had mutual engineering interests, so after being around them for a bit, it was the only group I wanted to join. The group of guys it attracted when I was there is the biggest reason and why it’s helped make me who I am. All of my very best friends are from Sigma Nu. I think that shows the bond that we had.”

Q: Do you plan to attend alumni events?
A: “I’m planning to attend events next year if I can get back. Recently in San Francisco, I met up a bunch with other Sigma Nu alums that were one or two years above me. We had dinner, made dumplings once, and just caught up.”

Q: Are you still in touch with your brothers?
A: “I’m in touch with about 10-15. I see the guys in San Francisco once a month or every other. People in my pledge class, most of them are in New York, and I actually went to a New Year’s Eve party at one of my pledge brother’s place in New York.”

Q: What are the top two things you gained from your membership in Sigma Nu?
A: “The friendships and connections I made are definitely at the top. The second thing is the commitment and skills I learned from being in Sigma Nu.”

Q: As a recent grad who is still familiar with the undergrad experience, did you feel a sense of appreciation for alumni support and involvement?
A: “There was definitely an alumni presence through the property company. They would be at the house pretty frequently, and it didn’t go unnoticed. They did huge renovations to the house while I was there, and that was funded entirely through alumni donations to the property company. When I first moved into the house, it was pretty bad, but they made a lot of improvements.”

Q: Do you see yourself giving back to the chapter in the future?
A: “Definitely. Something I would like to do is promote more entrepreneurship, so if there is a chance to give a talk or do a mentorship program in the future, I would love to.”

Q: Why are you proud to be a Sigma Nu brother?
A: “The group of guys it attracts are hardworking, honest, honorable, and giving. Everyone in my pledge class and all the guys I met there will give very selflessly to other people and help out no matter what. It makes me proud to be associated with that type of person, and I strive for those goals as well. The biggest part is the character of a Sigma Nu and being associated with that.”

Q: Can you share one memory you won’t ever forget?
A: “One of the things that brought all the brothers together was when one of our members got into an accident and had to go to the hospital. Immediately, the first people there were brothers of our pledge class and then the rest of the members. We stayed there in the hospital with him for the next two days, talking with each other, being there when he was waking up, and doing everything we could to be there for him. That’s something we still talk about this day.”

You can contact Markus at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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