Undergrads, AI and social impact: Borealis AI wants to help undergrads in Canada use AI to solve big problems
Borealis AI is introducing Let’s SOLVE it – a new program for undergraduate students at Canadian universities interested in solving real problems in their communities using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Students get to choose the problem worth solving and build the team to make it happen. Borealis AI provides the skills, resources, and mentorship needed to help them tackle their problems and drive positive change.
“We want to empower the next generation of AI leaders to build technologies that move society forward. Encouraging new and diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and communities to participate in the Canadian AI ecosystem,”
noted Dr. Eirene Seiradaki, Director of Research Partnerships at Borealis AI.
“By bringing together the great ideas and creativity of students with the catalytic power of AI and ML, we have an opportunity to advance positive outcomes for society.”
Making AI more accessible
The Let’s SOLVE it mentorship program is open to all undergraduate students at all Canadian universities. It’s free and will be conducted virtually – teams don’t need to be in the same location or at the same school in order to participate. You don’t even need to be enrolled in a Computer Science program – each team member should have some basic programming knowledge, but specific experience using AI or ML isn’t necessary.
“There are students across the country who are interested in AI, have big ideas, but don’t have access to the skills, tools and capabilities they need in order to realize their dreams,”
noted Dr. Elissa Strome, Executive Director of Pan-Canadian AI Strategy at CIFAR.
“Let’s SOLVE it encourages students from all walks of life and all regions of the country to not only take a greater interest in AI and ML, but also to achieve positive social outcomes in their communities.”
Solving real problems using AI
The Let’s SOLVE it program builds off a successful pilot that included 26 students from universities all across Canada. The seven teams – which included two all-female teams – focused on a range of important societal problems, including accessibility, mental health, and climate change. The program also helped participants improve their AI literacy skills, and practical understanding of building AI solutions.
“Participating in the Let’s SOLVE it program changed the way I see the field of AI and ML,”
said Wanqing Li, an undergrad at Queen’s University and a participant in the pilot project.
“I used to think AI/ML was hardcore. But the LSi program showed me that, while it is a complex and difficult field, with the right support it is possible to get a clearer and deeper understanding that can help solve important problems.”