MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing aims to drive diversity and inclusion in AI, and is launching Break Through Tech AI, a new program to bridge the talent gap for women and underrepresented genders in AI positions in industry.
The Break Through Tech AI program will provide skill-based training, industry-relevant portfolios, and mentorship to qualified undergraduate students in the Greater Boston area in order to place them more competitively for careers in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. The free 18-month program will also provide a stipend for participation to reduce the barrier for those who are normally unable to engage in an unpaid extracurricular educational opportunity.
says Daniel Huttenlicher, dean of the MIT Schwarzman School of Computing and Henry Ellis Warren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “We look forward to working with students from across the Greater Boston area to provide them with the skills and guidance to help them find jobs in this competitive and growing industry.”
The college is collaborating with Break Through Tech — a national initiative launched by Cornell Tech in 2016 to increase the number of women and underrepresented groups graduating with degrees in computing — to host and run the program locally. In addition to Boston, the inaugural Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning program will be offered in two other metropolitan areas – one based in New York hosted by Cornell Tech and the other in Los Angeles hosted by UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.
“Break Through Tech’s success in diversifying those pursuing computer science degrees and careers has transformed lives and the industry,” says Judith Spitz, executive director of Break Through Tech. “With our new collaborators, we can apply our impactful model to drive inclusivity and diversity in AI.”
The new program will begin this summer at MIT with an eight-week online skills-based course and in-person lab experience that teaches industry-relevant tools for building real-world AI solutions. Students will learn how to analyze data sets and use many popular machine learning libraries to build, train and implement their own machine learning models in a business context.
After the summer session, students will be matched to machine learning challenge projects for which they will convene monthly at MIT and work in teams to build solutions and collaborate with an industry consultant or mentor throughout the academic year, resulting in a range of CV-quality work. Participants will also be paired with young professionals in the field to help build their network, prepare their portfolio, train for interviews, and develop workplace skills.
“Leveraging the college’s strong partnership with industry, Break Through AI will provide unique opportunities for students that will enhance their portfolio in machine learning and artificial intelligence,” says Aso Ozdacilar, deputy dean of academics at the MIT Schwarzman School of Computing, electrical engineering and computer science. Ozdağlar, who will be MIT faculty director for Break Through Tech AI, adds: “The college is committed to making computing inclusive and accessible to all. We are thrilled to host this program at MIT for the greater Boston area and to do what we can to help increase diversity in the areas of computing.”
AI technology breakthrough is part of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing’s focus on promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in computing. The College aims to improve and create programs and activities that expand participation in computing classes and degree programs, increase the diversity of candidates for top faculty in computing fields, and ensure that faculty searches and graduate admissions have diverse lists of candidates and interviews.
“By engaging in activities like Break Through Tech AI that improve the climate for underrepresented groups, we are taking an important step toward creating more welcoming environments where all members can innovate and thrive,” says Alana Anderson, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Schwarzman College of Computing.