Over the summer, our senior 5 student Amy Calleja was the only student selected to represent Malta at the “Alice Envisions the Future – Girls in STEM A.I. Bootcamp” which was hosted by Microsoft in Athens, Greece between the 26th and 31st August amongst 150 students and 50 teachers organised by Microsoft.
Over the 4 days, Amy had the opportunity to meet several Microsoft experts speaking about their work and about the cutting edge technology from 7 main speakers. She also got the opportunity to make friends with girls from all over Europe and Asia including Ukraine, Cyprus, Hungary, Poland and Kazakhstan.
During the Bootcamp, participants were introduced to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and were encouraged to consider a career in the field of technology as they explored some of the possibilities within this exciting IT field. Amy enjoyed creating 3d photos, animating and editing them as well as coding a small robot called a micro:bit to display a LED light pattern in response to buttons being pressed. Other highlights of the Bootcamp included creating code on Minecraft, building and coding a Lego robot and a hackathon which involved building sensors to control a robotic hand through the movements of one’s own hand.
Amy also learnt about how AI is being used for social good and how seamlessly it has been integrated in society for example; recommendations on Netflix. The girls were also introduced to the cloud concept and had the opportunity to create a chat bot which could answer one’s questions replacing a FAQ on a website. Amy was fascinated to work with cognitive services in which the computer works through neurons and is trained to be more accurate than humans. Amy got the opportunity to work with software that could detect a dog’s breed, analyse a person’s age and mood and software that was able to create transcripts and analysis of video footage were also interesting experiences.
Across the four days, Amy also participated fully in the panel discussions taking the opportunity to address her questions to the main speakers. The girls also learnt how to build their digital profile and about the different certifications that would be helpful to advance their future careers in the tech industry.
The program also included other fun activities including a Mad Hatter Tea Party and a treasure hunt around Athens. Amy hugely enjoyed building IKEA shelving units which were donated to an NGO supporting immigrant children.
The Bootcamp culminated in a hack day on the beach during which the girls were tasked with solving challenges through the use of AI. A few of the challenges were creating a program that could identify cats and dogs, create a ChatBot which gave information regarding breast cancer and a program that could identify whether a tumour was benign or malignant, a face API which could recognise faces and facial features, one’s age and emotions and create an Internet of Things.
This was an incredible opportunity for Amy to learn about AI whilst making new friends and one which she will surely remember for a long time to come.