Atlantic City Selected as Host Site for Artificial Intelligence Boot Camp
- Posted on: 03/11/2021
The Mark Cuban Foundation’s Artificial Intelligence Boot Camp Initiative Hosts Free Camps to Teach AI Concepts to Underserved High School Students
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced that the Mark Cuban Foundation has selected Atlantic City as a host site in 2021 for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Boot Camp for high school students. The free AI Boot Camp will introduce underserved students in grades 9 through 12 in the Atlantic City area to basic AI concepts and skills.
DCA’s Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office led the effort to bring the AI Boot Camp to the city, which was one of 16 sites selected nationwide for boot camps in 2021. The camp will be held over four half-days on Saturdays beginning October 23rd at South Jersey Industries’ headquarters in Atlantic City for students with an interest in technology. Students do not need any familiarity with computer science or programming to attend.
“We want to give Atlantic City’s youth broader opportunities to realize their full potential. The Artificial Intelligence Boot Camp is one such opportunity that can really change a young person’s life trajectory,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We also want to make sure that all people – regardless of race, gender and socioeconomic status – are represented at tech companies. Opening the doors to everyone will help promote diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence, which is especially important since this technology is increasingly affecting our daily lives.”
Over the course of the AI Boot Camp, students will learn what artificial intelligence is and isn't, where they already interact with AI in their own lives, the ethical implications of AI systems, and the systems behind Netflix recommendations, sales forecasting, smart assistants, facial recognition, and self-driving cars. Students also will learn how to use Microsoft's cloud computing tools to build their own AI applications.
Students will benefit from volunteer instructors who are knowledgeable about data science and able to help students quickly understand material normally taught at a collegiate level. For example, students will learn a new fundamental topic each day from an instructor who works with that specific technology. After learning each concept, they will work in small groups to complete lab exercises that contextualize the tech and use Microsoft Azure AI tools. At the end of the camp, there will be an opportunity for students to work together to answer the question: “How would you use AI to improve your life or the lives of those around you?”
The Mark Cuban Foundation provides the boot camp’s curriculum materials, trains volunteers, recruits local students, and coordinates the events. Thoughtspot, a search and AI-driven analytics tech company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., will provide the volunteer instructors for the boot camp in Atlantic City.
“We know how much untapped talent exists within our local communities as a direct result of lack of access to opportunity and resources,” shared Yvette Medina, Director of the Mark Cuban Foundation's AI Boot Camps Program. “It is imperative that we give students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in STEM, including girls, students of color and children of families living in poverty to moderate-income households, the ability to understand Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and exposure to the college and career opportunities that will be shaped by this industry in the future.”
“As data, automation, and AI reshape the world around us, the benefits promise to be staggering. But if we don’t have diverse teams building these capabilities, these benefits won’t be experienced equally,” said Cindi Howson, Chief Data Strategy Officer of Thoughtspot. “By partnering with the State of New Jersey and the Mark Cuban Foundation on the Artificial Intelligence Boot Camp, we’re inspiring the next generation of workers to realize data and AI is part of the future of work, every jobs, and our everyday lives. The ThoughtSpot team is thrilled to support these workshops to foster a more diverse talent pipeline, mitigate the risk of bias at scale, and provide opportunities in one of the fastest growing tech sectors.”
“We are excited to host the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Boot Camp at our South Jersey Gas corporate headquarters in Atlantic City. Engaging Atlantic City area youth in ways that can enrich their education, especially in STEM subjects, is an important part of our community commitment. We hope the students will meet our team, use our facilities, and envision themselves working for us one day. They are our future!” said Mike Renna, CEO of South Jersey Industries.
The AI Boot Camp program addresses recommendations in the Atlantic City Transition Report (i.e. Johnson report), which was issued in September 2018 to create pathways to opportunity and to build a diverse economy based on the principle of shared prosperity. The Transition Report was conducted at the direction of Governor Murphy to provide strategic advice for strengthening Atlantic City. The boot camp also meets several objectives of the Atlantic City Implementation Plan, which was issued in April 2019 to put into action the recommendations in the Transition Report. Those objectives include providing innovative and new afterschool and summer programming for youth, preparing youth for the future workforce, and targeting challenged populations to build new support systems and programs around their needs.
Founded by Mark Cuban in 2019, the AI Boot Camp initiative has hosted free camps for students in Dallas, El Paso, Chicago, Omaha, Detroit, and Green Bay. The Foundation’s goal is to have 1,000 students graduate from AI Boot Camps each year by 2023.
The Atlantic City Initiatives Projects Office (ACIPO) is a team within DCA that reports directly to the Office of the DCA Commissioner. It is responsible for developing and executing an implementation plan for critical elements of the Atlantic City Transition Report, which was issued in September 2018 to provide the City and State with a roadmap for tackling the city’s longstanding challenges. ACIPO Deputy Director India Still is the team lead on the AI Boot Camp initiative.
The DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.
For more information on the Atlantic City Initiatives Projects Office, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/home/ac/initiativesoffice.html.
For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media: