He's Chasing Genius: Peter Ma '07

Written by: Christina Crovetto,

Peter Ma is co-founder of Doctor Hazel, an AI that detects skin cancer in real time.  He’s part of the Intel Software Innovator program, which supports innovative, independent developers who display an ability to create and demonstrate forward-looking projects.  A software developer for more than 12 years, Ma has previously been involved in five different startups and won more than 100 hackathons in the past.  He received a B.S in computer engineering in 2007.

Ma is currently focused on AI projects that include Doctor Hazel and Clean Water AI.  He has recently built a project using AI to detect water quality such as bacteria and harmful particles that has made it to National Geographic’s Chasing Genius finalist list. Voting ends on March 20, 2018.

Tell us about your current position and your AI project.

Clean Water AI is an Internet of Things (IoT) program that uses AI to detect water contamination such as dangerous bacterias like E. coli and other harmful particles.

Do you think your NJIT degree helped you to pursue this?

Definitely.  I graduated with a computer engineering degree, which gave me the knowledge for fundamentals on developing both hardware and software. Right now, this is exactly what I am doing.

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?

Finding the right career path was hard. I did sales engineering and software development; ultimately, I've decided to build prototypes and now I am trying to do my own startup.  But just like Steve Jobs said, everything makes sense when you connect the dots backwards.

Where did you live when you were a student?

I lived in Laurel Hall back in NJIT, Room #435A. I wonder who is living there now.

Did you enjoy your time at NJIT?

I enjoyed NJIT a lot; I even had an opportunity to do a startup with my fellow classmate two years after graduation.  NJIT provided the education we need to compete in the real world.

What was your most memorable moment as a student?

There are too many, but winning the logo contest for $500 did get me started, and I did spend it on my Spring Break with fellow classmates.

What is your lasting impression of NJIT?

I believe in fundamentals, and I think NJIT was very good at teaching me fundamentals about engineering and software development.

What advice would you give to those considering a similar career path?

School is for fundamentals. Go to hackathons to learn real-world skills; you need both to succeed in this world.