Top 25 Turkish Graduates of 2024


Mehmet Deniz Birlikci — Most Successful 2024 Graduates

Originally published by StudyInAmerica on their 2024 list (article). Special thanks to Tamer Turkman for his wonderful efforts to recognize Turkish students and raise awareness about higher education abroad. Article translated from Turkish to English.

Mehmet Deniz Birlikci, son of Esra and Serdar Birlikçi, was born in Istanbul in 2001. Deniz's passion for learning was nurtured by his grandparents who were all teachers: Tülay Uzun, Mehmet Akif Uzun, Fatma Birlikçi, and Ismail Birlikçi. He completed his early schooling at Üsküdar SEV before attending Üsküdar American Academy for high school.

Throughout elementary and high school, Deniz discovered various facets of his personality through diverse activities. He uncovered his creative side on the theater stage, which culminated in him directing his own play in high school. His analytic skills were honed through participation in over 15 Model United Nations (MUN) conferences, where he both attended and led international events. Deniz's entrepreneurial spirit emerged when he co-founded an e-commerce company, while his technical aptitude was demonstrated by building a website that facilitated online payments for hundreds of customers. Committed to education equality, Deniz volunteered with Young Guru Academy (YGA) from middle school through college. As part of YGA's Science to Anatolia project, he traveled to developing schools, distributing Science Kits, training teachers, and hosting science sessions.

Deniz pursued his higher education at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, studying Artificial Intelligence. As a researcher at CMU's Multimodal ML Lab, he helped develop a multimodal corpus designed to enhance the generation of realistic nonverbal behaviors in virtual agents and human-robot interaction systems. To apply his AI expertise in industry, Deniz interned with the Mercedes Formula 1 team in the summer of 2021, where he built AutoML pipelines to enable non-AI engineers to deploy AI models on their data.

As a Head Teaching Assistant for CMU's flagship computer science course, 15-112, Deniz introduced over 1,000 students to programming. Serving on the board of CMU's Turkish Student Society (TUSO), he oversaw efforts to raise $50,000 for relief efforts following the 2023 earthquakes. During the 2023 Turkish Presidential Elections, Deniz helped organize transportation to the nearest embassy for Turkish nationals in Pittsburgh to cast their votes. As an Innovation Scholar at CMU's Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, he assisted fellow students in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

In his final year of college, Deniz combined his passion for entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence to co-found ObviousAI, which developed multimodal search for fashion e-commerce companies. ObviousAI advanced to become one of 20 companies in the semifinals of Microsoft's Imagine Cup and was admitted to Unusual Ventures' Academy program. In 2024, Deniz was selected as a Neo Scholar for his high entrepreneurship potential and technical excellence, becoming one of only a handful of Turkish students to ever receive this honor.

Deniz graduated from Carnegie Mellon's Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence program with a 3.8 GPA and University Honors. Following his graduation, he will work as an AI research engineer.

Original Article in Turkish


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