The pilot programme has been rolled out in several secondary schools across the country. Its immersive AI and ML module was developed by a UCD PhD student.
A pilot programme that has seen more than 8,000 students in more than 100 secondary schools across Ireland learn about machine learning and AI is set to expand in the coming school year.
The programme offers students the chance to learn about the tech shaping the future. It has been rolled out in schools in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Kildare.
The courses are immersive, allowing participants to work with robots, self-driving cars and more.
The programme was developed at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research Training in Machine Learning (ML-Labs) based in University College Dublin (UCD).
The AI and machine learning module was developed by Joyce Mahon, an ML-Labs PhD student at UCD.
The course was delivered via CSinc, a research group based in TU Dublin. The group has plans to roll the course out again for the academic year 2022-2023 through its online learning platform, CSLINC.
Students who successfully complete the course receive a certificate of completion from the TU Dublin research group.
“This programme has been a great experience for me, and didn’t require any previous knowledge of coding so allowed me to get a grasp of the basics of AI and machine learning very quickly,” said Charlotte Murphy, a transition year student at Boherbue Comprehensive School in Cork. “It gave me a fresh perspective on the digital area and the relevance of STEM courses to the future world of technology.”
The programme was designed with both students and teachers in mind. The machine learning and AI module came with lesson plans, presentations, videos, classwork, homework and other resources for teachers. Code and accompanying instructional materials are provided to introduce various machine learning algorithms if teachers want to take a more technical approach.
Vera Leader, principal of the Boherbue school where 25 transition year students took part in the programme this year, agreed with Murphy that the programme had “opened [the] students’ eyes even more to the possibilities for artificial intelligence and machine learning”.
“It has also challenged students in their thinking about what to study in fifth and sixth year and whether they should consider studying STEM subjects in college.”
Huawei Ireland lent its support to the expansion of the programme. The tech company’s head of PR, Luke McDonnell, said: “The module has been specifically and carefully designed and developed with a transition year audience in mind which had made it very accessible.”
Huawei Ireland also runs the Tech4Her programme with TU Dublin and UCD. The scheme provides scholarships and support to young women studying STEM subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level. It is also available in University College Cork.
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