Two Buffalo State May 2019 graduates and one rising senior were selected to participate in Google’s 10-week summer boot camp, Applied Computing for Higher Education. Open to college students and recent graduates, it is taking place through August 2 in California and Georgia.
Computer Information Systems (CIS) major Max Matuska landed a spot in the Claremont, California, bootcamp, and CIS major Zhengli (Christine) Zhu and applied mathematics major Jackie Dufresne are participating in Atlanta, Georgia. The students will learn the latest in machine learning from Google engineers and faculty teaching at host institutions Agnes Scott College and Scripps College.
“This is very prestigious,” said Joaquin Carbonara, Buffalo State professor of mathematics and the interdisciplinary unit in data science and analytics (IUDSA). “Students earn nine college credits for the camp. Google covers the entire cost, plus their room and board.”
Students had to compete against peers from colleges and universities across the country. A total of 35 students, a mix of 2019 graduates and rising upperclassmen, were accepted from eight institutions, including Buffalo State.
Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), focuses on algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use in order to perform a specific task effectively without using explicit instructions.
The kind of skills students will acquire during the boot camp fit the quickly growing data analytics and AI industries, said Ramona Santa Maria, associate professor of CIS.
“One of the recent success stories of machine learning is self-driving cars,” Carbonara said. “Many jobs are expected to be done in the near future by AI-driven technology.”
Google for Education notes that by 2020 the number of positions for data analytics talent in the United States will increase by 364,000.
A new partnership between Buffalo State and Google formed last September made participation in the boot camp possible.
“Having our students participate in the boot camp speaks to the power of collaboration between the CIS and Mathematics departments,” Santa Maria said.
Two undergraduate math courses Carbonara developed with Google—Programming Foundation of Python and Introduction to Data Science—serve as prerequisites for the bootcamp.
“We helped test the materials and gave extensive feedback to Google in form of weekly discussions, surveys, and the onsite trainings at the Google headquarters in New York City,” he said.
This comes at an auspicious time. Buffalo State recently created a new interdisciplinary program—data science and analytics (DSA). It includes a 4+1 option, which means students can earn a master’s degree in DSA one year after receiving their bachelor’s degree. And that will prepare them for jobs in AI.
“Literacy for AI is very low,” Carbonara said. “People don’t realize the role it will have in the near future. Our graduates can be part of this trend.”
He said he is working now to secure Buffalo State as the host for the machine learning boot camp in summer 2020.
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