James Belanger

position: 
Senior Meteorological Scientist
photo: 
Education: 
B.S. EAS 2007
last name: 
Belanger
first name: 
James
company: 
The Weather Company
current location: 
Atlanta, Georgia
Please briefly describe your current job: 
Provide scientific expertise in design and implementation of TWC’s artificial intelligence algorithms for consumer and business weather products.
What is your favorite part of your current position: 
Each day I work on blending physical concepts rooted in atmospheric dynamics and meteorology with machine learning to produce weather forecasts that are consumed by millions of people around the world. The sheer scope of impact on people's lives is difficult to fathom. But it's rewarding to know that my work is helping people make better decisions everyday.
How did your EAS education prepare you for your current job?: 
Georgia Tech in general and EAS in particular provided several opportunities that prepared me for this position. a. Georgia Tech's courses in calculus, chemistry, physics, and computer science are very challenging but are critically important. The technical preparation you gain significantly outweighs the long hours of homework and study that are required. b. EAS's coursework provides a solid foundation in the Earth system. To develop the world's most accurate weather forecasts requires a fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistry of the land-ocean-atmosphere system. The program provides the necessary technical training in meteorology and atmospheric sciences, while providing a broader perspective of the Earth system that's often not found at other programs. c. EAS's research provides a unique opportunity to experience a career-in-action. You have the opportunity to gain fieldwork experience locally or visit some of the most remote locations imaginable. Or if that's not your thing, you have the chance to apply your computer science skills to help solve some of the world's most challenging environmental problems. d. I encourage all undergraduate students to complete a study abroad program at some point in their career. Georgia Tech Lorraine's summer program provided enriching cultural opportunities that I could never gain in the classroom environment. Imagine getting to spend the summer taking coursework in France while getting to travel throughout Europe on the weekends. At Georgia Tech, #wecandothat
What do you wish you had known as an EAS undergraduate in order to land the job of your dreams?: 
If you desire a career in the private sector, start interning or volunteering now. Careers in the private sector often require several years of prior work experience. Don't wait until you have your degree to start gaining that work experience. While an undergraduate student, I was fortunate to work with a previous EAS faculty member's start up company, and those projects helped shaped my interests in applied research. Also, networking is critically important for any career whether it's in academia, government or the private sector. Strive to make deep connections with your classmates, instructors, and fellow alumni. Those relationships will become even more important as you move forward in your career.