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AI Singapore’s Inaugural AI Bootcamp for Kids

AI Singapore welcomed more than 60 Primary 5 and 6 children to the inaugural AI for Kids Bootcamp on 2 February 2019. Laurence Liew, Director of AI Industry Innovation, kick-started the Bootcamp with a note of encouragement to the children to pursue their interests in technology and AI.

The energy emitted from the children was visibly infectious on a bright and early Saturday morning. Two graduates from the AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) Batch 1 took to the stage to explain the concepts of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, using course materials created by NUS High School students for students.

The children were also introduced to the concept of Computer Vision. They learnt about the incorporation of its capabilities with the Scratch programming language through Microsoft Cognitive Services, in the form of a Rock-Scissors-Paper program. Some kids had a go at training a car to recognize how to turn left through a game developed by one of our apprentices.

After a tea break, it was time for the children to shine. They were tasked with a hands-on project session using provided extensions with AI capabilities, to gain experience in building AI-centric programmes from scratch. At the end of the hands-on session, certificates were issued to the future AI engineers/scientists for taking their first step in the field of AI.

The inaugural AI for Kids Bootcamp was fully run by the AI Apprentices from Batch 1 of the AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) as one of their contributions to the future of AI in Singapore.

AIAP Batch 1 has graduated!

And so….they have graduated!

Our Pioneer Batch of 13 young and promising talents have ended their 9-month apprenticeship journey with AI Singapore. The simple graduation ceremony was held on 2nd Feb at i4.0 and it was attended by family & friends, Project Sponsors, PIs and reps from IMDA and AISG who were present to support and congratulate them.

It was indeed a very special day for them. From AI “Ah-pprentices to Engineers”, they will soon begin a new chapter of their professional lives. All the apprentices have or are in the process of taking on AI roles/jobs after this.

Excerpts from Laurence’s speech:

“When we first thought of the AI Apprenticeship Programme back in July 2017, we were not sure if we could pull it off and get the support we needed as the AI Apprenticeship Programme was not part of the original AI Singapore programme approved.

But why AIAP?

We conceived the AIAP to solve a problem AI Singapore faced ourselves… which is the lack of AI engineers to work on our projects. As much as we tried to hire, it was not easy to find Singaporean engineers and developers trained in AI. It also did not help that we were not able to match the salaries of Google, Facebook, Alibaba and the big boys.

So I asked my team if we could train Singaporeans who are keen in AI and are already learning AI on their own but perhaps did not have an opportunity to work on real world AI problems.

So, we found these rough stones and polished them into gems. This was the genesis of the AIAP.”

Over the last 9 months, the apprentices, who came into AI despite their diverse backgrounds, learnt a lot more about AI especially through the 100E projects they were assigned to. Almost all of them went through at least one end-to-end cycle of an AI project – from problem formulation, modelling, solution engineering to MVP deployment. We also saw the bond they had built amongst themselves – this, we believe is the most important takeaway from the programme. It was also a fulfilling experience for the AISG mentors who, in return, had learnt much from the apprentices through the different interactions and discussions.

The AIAP programme has been made possible with the partnership from IMDA, in particular the TeSA team, coupled with strong support from 100E project sponsors which provided interesting and challenging AI problem statements for the apprentices to work with them & PIs on.

1 batch down…9 more batches to go…We will continue to grow our own timber.

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