TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today highlighted the rewarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) Boot Camp for Atlantic City-area high school students that has been held on consecutive Saturdays in Atlantic City since October 23. The Department also thanked the Mark Cuban Foundation, South Jersey Industries, ThoughtSpot, and its own Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office for making the camp, which introduced basic AI concepts and skills to 20 students in grades 9 through 12 for free, possible.
The last session of the boot camp will be held on Saturday, November 13 at South Jersey Industries’ headquarters in Atlantic City. Because the camp was so successful, the Mark Cuban Foundation has already designated Atlantic City as a host site for the Artificial Intelligence Boot Camp in 2022.
“Atlantic City had the highest number of applicants of all their camp sites across the nation, which speaks to the commitment and hard work that went into making this educational program a success for the students who attended,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Governor Murphy and I believe that creating learning opportunities and broadening career possibilities for Atlantic City youth is a priority, which is why we’re so excited to see this camp return next year to positively impact even more students.”
DCA’s Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office led the effort to bring the AI Boot Camp to the city, which was one of 15 sites selected nationwide for the camps in 2021.
The boot camp inspired several local stakeholders, including the Atlantic City School District, South Jersey Industries, Atlantic Cape Community College, AtlantiCare, Ocean Casino Resort, and Atlantic City Electric to create apprenticeship opportunities in the areas of cybersecurity and data analytics for Atlantic City young adults.
While students applying to the boot camp had to demonstrate an interest in technology, they did not need any familiarity with computer science or programming to attend.
Over the course of the AI Boot Camp, students have been learning how AI is transforming society and how companies such as Google, Spotify, and Netflix use AI in their operations. They are also gaining hands-on experience in building AI applications of their own and in identifying areas where AI can be applied to make life better for their neighborhoods and communities. Additionally, they’ve heard from guest speakers like Mark Cuban and will.i.am and received instruction from mentors with expertise in the topics being covered.
The topic themes for each Saturday included:
· Intro to AI and Bots: October 23
· Machine Learning: October 30
· Computer Vision: November 6
· Natural Language Processing: November 13
After learning each concept, the students have worked in small groups to complete lab exercises that contextualize the tech and use AI tools.
The Mark Cuban Foundation provided the boot camp’s curriculum materials, trained volunteers, helped recruit local students, and coordinated the events. ThoughtSpot, the Modern Analytics Cloud company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is providing the volunteer instructors for the boot camp in Atlantic City and South Jersey Industries is hosting the camp at its offices in Atlantic City.
“No matter where you look, it's clear data, analytics, and AI are revolutionizing the world around us. In the coming years, the impact of these technologies will only become more pronounced. That's why I'm so excited by the work we're doing alongside the Mark Cuban Foundation, South Jersey Industries, and the Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office,” said Cindi Howson, Chief Data Strategy Officer, ThoughtSpot. “These bootcamps are an important means to engage and cultivate the next generation of data leaders from all backgrounds, which is absolutely essential to foster greater diversity and reduce the risk of AI bias.”
“Developing technology leaders who think big, lead and inspire will be a vital step in accomplishing New Jersey’s goal of a clean energy future,” said Leonard Brinson Jr., Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “I’m confident that the Artificial Intelligence Boot Camp will only further this mission, leading the region and the environment in which we live to a better today and tomorrow.”
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: