Stepping into the Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS) Summer Camp at the University of Essex in July was an exciting moment for myself and my colleagues Lucy and Hannah, and I was thrilled to return to my alma mater. The STEM building hosted a community of learners all driven by the shared curiosity in data and AI. As the week unfolded, I realised that this experience was about more than just education; it was about connections, inspiration, and re-examining AI's impact on our lives and profession.
Meeting Minds from Around the Globe
The campus buzzed with energy as learners from Germany, London, Austria, and of course Essex, united. Our diversity in backgrounds dissolved in our shared interest, which made conversation easy. As Hannah eloquently put it “we all came together in the pursuit of a similar goal: to gain better understanding of methods and theories under the umbrella of data science”. The STEM centre was our intellectual hub, there we collaborated and exchanged ideas in each break, accompanied by delicious cakes, both highlights of the week!
Each of us pursued different learning paths throughout the week, Hannah and I delved into the realms of Machine Learning and Deep Learning, discovering packages like keras and tensorflow. Tutoring on decision-making algorithms and the continuous development of AI ignited engaging discussions among us.
The eminent Dr. Detlef Nauck, Head of AI & Data Science at BT, sparked our fear and curiosity on GenAI and focused our thoughts on why we need to continue to take the time and care to consider the ethical implications of AI. His discussions on biases and comprehensible AI (GenAI) generated conversation about the dangers of bias models and the future of careers in data science.
For me his Dark Horse of AI session was captivating, exploring AI's unexpected advancements in science. From virus creation to real-time optimisation, AI's potential to reshape fields for better and worse was evident.
Meanwhile, Lucy delved into the "Advanced R" pathway. For her the modules were taught at the right pace to build her confidence in her skills, and helped her to uncover efficient coding techniques like Loops and IF statements, exploiting the use of ggplot and visualisation in R, and the complicated (Oh why did they have to make things so complicated – A.Lavigne 2002) but fascinating world of Bayesian Computational Analysis. She also engaged in the world of Social Network Analysis which she found very useful, especially the packages network and sna.
In conclusion, the IADS Summer Camp was not only a mere educational event, I speak for the three of us when I say that our time proved to be professionally transformative. We gained deeper curiosity about AI, we engaged in machine learning innovation, and improved our technical skills. Equipped with these experiences, we are better prepared to address real challenges that face Essex residents. While we say goodbye to the delicious cakes that brightened our breaks, we look forward to the promise of another learning week and, of course, more cake. “Adios” and we aim to get the recipe next time.