Recently I spent two weeks at Stanford University studying artificial intelligence, surrounded by the most incredible group of “badass women” (31 other freshman girls), counselors, professors, and female leaders in tech. Despite the back/shoulder pain (primarily due to lugging around very heavy laptops) and the psychological pain (primarily due to the perpetually broken state of the ice cream machine in the dining hall), I can safely say that SAILORS 2017 was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
The first week of camp was filled with morning lectures on computer programming, probability, and machine learning, talks by Stanford University professors on computer vision, natural language processing, AI + airplanes, psychology, and sustainability, demos of hexacopters, self-driving cars, and social robots, and nightly discussions with Github and Google employees as well as a former White House staffer. We took a trip to the Computer History Museum, exploring the exhibits in a tour led by Dr. Edward Feigenbaum (who is sadly cooler than I’ll ever be). We also began working on our group research projects. Every night, we enjoyed an hour or so of free time (which I mostly spent lying around scrolling through social media, after which I’d guilt myself into playing piano or studying).
On Friday afternoon, we attended a reception dinner, where we listened to Stanford Professor Allison Okamura give a presentation on her research in haptics. We spoke about our research progress, learned about the exciting future for SAILORS and AI4All, and met some SAILORS alumni (one of whom I knew through Expii and NCWIT but had never spoken to in person!)
The weekend was significantly less busy — thankfully, I got to sleep a lot. We also took a trip to the beach, where I got a sunburn due to my incompetency in applying sunscreen.
During week 2 of camp, we had two computational biology lectures and an AI + education presentation, attended a string quartet performance, and spoke personally with Fei-Fei Li and Olga Russakovsky (cofounders of SAILORS). I also spent this entire week stressing over AP scores and probably annoying everyone around me (sorry).
On the last day of camp, we presented our research projects to professors, instructors, and other SAILORS, then answered questions during a poster session. Afterwards, we discussed future opportunities/how to stay involved in AI.
Though the camp lasted only two weeks (and felt infinitely shorter), the knowledge and friendships we’ve gained will last us a lifetime. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch (we’ve already made a Facebook group, in which we’ve all been assigned ridiculously long nicknames) and I hope we’ll see each other in the future at AI4All/alumni events. Until then, thanks to all the SAILORS, counselors, instructors, professors, etc. who made this experience unforgettable, and a special thanks to the compbio group. I can’t wait to see the incredible things you all go on to do. ❤
Originally published at anneli02.wordpress.com on July 14, 2017.