Imperial College London

Coordinating the AI Gold Rush: Student-Led Collaboration Between UK Universities

Students at the event on the Queen's Lawn, Imperial College London

Student-run associations from Imperial, Oxford, UCL, and LSE to synergise efforts in guiding and nurturing talent in AI around the country.

By Sho Ozaki Tan

Earlier this year, the Imperial College Machine Learning society co-launched an intermural student-led non-profit called Students for AI. The movement is dedicated to connecting and supporting societies and organisations from universities across the UK by sharing resources, educating students, tackling tough social projects and co-hosting major events.

Why Students for AI?

"By sharing resources we can maximise the number of students who are learning and deploying this powerful technology..." Haron Shams Co-founder of the Imperial College Machine Learning Society

Students for AI was launched in an effort to coordinate the increasing demand for education in AI among students in institutes of higher learning. The initiative will organise talks, panel discussions, tutorial sessions, funding, and other educational resources for students from all fields of study, aiming to supplement their main area of expertise with invaluable knowledge of machine learning. Additionally, as part of the learning experience, participants may be granted the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge by working on collaborative projects with real-world applications such as corporate performance trend analysis and medical imaging software development. The alliance already comprises student bodies founded at academic institutions including UCL, Oxford, and LSE. There are currently plans to expand the network further by reaching out to other existing student-led AI bodies – and to inspire other universities to start their own AI initiatives too.

Students at the event on the Queen's Lawn

Haron Shams, the co-founder and co-president of the Imperial College Machine Learning Society, outlined the primary goal of Students For AI: “We are on a mission to make the UK a melting pot of interdisciplinary AI research and application… The idea is that by sharing resources, we can maximise the number of students who are learning and deploying this powerful technology either in their business or research.” 

AI Careers Fest

Imperial College Machine Learning Society logo
Imperial College Machine Learning Society logo

The organisation’s first AI Careers Fest took place on the 25 June on the Queen’s Lawn with the aim of allowing students to explore career prospects in artificial intelligence and support them in securing internships and placements. Those looking for advice and inspiration from professional sources for their own startup ideas were also encouraged to come and share their perspectives, and a large variety of displays showcased numerous interactive demos.

Twenty different AI-based companies were present at the fair, with corporations ranging from large venture capitals such as Capital Enterprise, to startups such as Beamery, AiX and React Robotics, as well as non-profits such as Homeless Entrepreneur. Around 300 delegates took part in the event, making it one of the biggest hosted by the Imperial College Machine Learning Society to date.

Students for AI also aims to support the educational development of students—especially those in need. A quarter of all profits from the event was committed to a fund for students facing hardship at university. Additionally, another 25% will be going to Homeless Entrepreneur, a charity that provides the homeless with the resources, tools, and knowledge needed to enter the professional scene.

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