What’s your Side Project: Using Machine Learning to help others

Author: Emily Tyson

Emmanuel Acheampong (ESTEEM '21)Emmanuel Acheampong (ESTEEM '21)

ESTEEM students are by nature an enterprising bunch, and it's not uncommon for them to come into the program with a side project, or to pick one up while here. In this post, we learn about Emmanuel Acheampong’s.


Emmanuel is new to South Bend having grown up in Ghana and attending college in Kentucky. He says he “had an amazing experience” as an undergrad at Berea College. The school is “very diverse, and there is a strong international student community. It is very tight-knit. Everyone knows your name and your family.”

After college Emmanuel spent a year working for a large firm in the financial services industry, as a machine learning engineer. 

All this time, he had been very active on LinkedIn, engaging others in conversations about their shared interests in machine learning, AI and virtual reality. Emmanuel began sharing on the platform about projects he was working on. 

One project Emmanuel has been working on in earnest is roboMUA, an online app that allows users to upload a photo of themselves and get makeup recommendations based on their individual skin tone. This project takes his technical knowledge and applies it in a real-world, practical way. “I did not know how big the makeup industry is. I was in tech, and not knowledgeable about it all.” He went “down a YouTube rabbit hole” and learned everything he could about products, how to apply makeup, and was extremely impressed by the creativity expressed by those who created and shared tutorials about makeup application. He also realized that people were having difficulty matching their foundation to their skin tone, and decided to try to solve this problem with AI. He built the first part of the app on his own; a friend helped him with the UI.

It seems Emmanuel had found an unmet need. As of this writing, roboMUA has had over 30,000 users.

Emmanuel is still active on LinkedIn, sharing his experience and knowledge, and says that he often gets requests to help others with their projects. He has also been working on another project, MOOC Anonymous, which uses AI to help an individual choose the best online course to take.
It was on LinkedIn where Emmanuel eventually learned about ESTEEM, when a current student reached out to him. The conversations they had led him to decide to apply to the program.
After ESTEEM, Emmanuel hopes to work in the machine learning ecosystem, either in a corporate setting or within a startup, perhaps his own venture. It isn’t hard to believe he will do this very thing, and continue to use what he has learned to help others.