On Monday, November 19, the new student organization [email protected] (ML stands for machine learning) held its first general body meeting. While having only just been approved by the Student Government Organization (SGA), it is now the largest student organization on campus with a membership of around 300 students. The meeting began with the president of [email protected], Rena Haswah, stating the mission of this organization: “We are dedicated to fostering a vibrant machine learning community at Illinois Tech by providing professional, educational, and project experiences to our members.” Haswah, along with Vice President Erick Torres, then proceeded on to cover some of the activities and events that [email protected] plans to hold, such as networking and career opportunities and educational events. The organization’s faculty advisors are Professor Lulu Kang and Professor Matthew Dixon, both of the Department of Applied Mathematics. Professor Dixon’s relevant research interests include artificial intelligence, finance, deep learning and Professor Kang’s include statistics, machine learning, and big data.
The organization is open to anyone, regardless of the amount of computer science or machine learning knowledge or experience they have. Right now, the organization is working on getting online learning courses for members, such as Coursera, Udacity, and Udemy so that members can build their knowledge and skill set. Additionally, [email protected] plans to reach out to alumni and co-host events with companies so that members can build their professional network. One of [email protected]’s goals is to become the most active student organization on campus.
Another of the main activities that [email protected] will have are its machine learning projects. There are three types of projects that members can participate in, depending on their skill level. The semester projects are open to everyone, regardless of skill, and there will be team-based with competitions held at the end of each semester. Partner projects will be for members who know a bit more about the subject material and will work with companies to solve real-world problems. The more experienced members will work on the “big” project, a continuous research project. The goal of all of these projects is to give the members as much hands-on experience as possible.
Following that, the meeting then went on to explain what machine learning is, providing some examples such as a facial recognition program that determines what dog a person looks most like. Other examples included image searching, facial orientation, emotion detection, and text classification. Some of the executive board members then showed some of the machine learning projects they themselves have been working on, such as self-driving robot by Ramir Aguilos and a program that can predict the genre of a book from its Goodreads summary by Sharath Gangalapadu.
Personally, I am extremely interested in all that [email protected] has to offer and think it is an excellent organization for anyone who is interested in learning about, or gaining experience in, the fields of machine learning, data science, artificial intelligence, or statistics. I have talked with President Haswah over the last several weeks as she went through the process of creating this organization, and I know that she and her executive board are committed to making this as engaging and beneficial of an experience for their members as possible. If you are interested in learning more, email President Rena Haswah at [email protected] and follow [email protected]’s pages on HawkLink and Facebook.
Photo by Victoria Belotti (She/her)