Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ - Program Overview
What is the AI4Good Lab?
The AI4Good Lab is an introductory program to AI for those with some programming background and intermediate to no experience in machine learning. The Lab runs for 7-weeks during the summer, and is split into two sections (the Curriculum and Project weeks). Please see the Program Details section of the FAQ for further details about the content of each section.
Curriculum weeks: The Curriculum section is an intensive introductory bootcamp to machine learning and AI, which takes place over the first 4 weeks of the program. During this time, participants attend lectures, talks, workshops, and networking events. There is also a mini hackathon that takes place.
Project weeks: The Project section takes place over the last 3 weeks, during which participants use the knowledge gained during the Curriculum weeks to develop an AI/ML prototype that addresses a social good issue.
Who runs the AI4Good Lab?
The AI4Good Lab is a non-profit program supported by a variety of partners. Our founding partners are the OSMO foundation and CIFAR, and we are supported by a variety of industrial, academic, and government entities. The AI4Good Lab headquarters is stationed in Montreal, where we run the local Montreal program and organize expansion across Canada. The Edmonton program is run by Amii in collaboration with the AI4Good Lab headquarters.
When is the program and what is the time commitment?
The 2021 program is running in both Montreal and Edmonton from May 3rd to June 22nd. It is a full time commitment that runs every day during work hours and some evenings/weekends, with scheduled breaks throughout the day. The program can run from 11 AM to as late as 7:00 PM EDT. Attendance at all lectures, talks, and workshops is required for all participants.
Will the Lab be in-person or virtual in 2021?
Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the Lab will most likely be entirely virtual, but there is the possibility of in-person programming depending on the progress of the pandemic in 2021. In-person programming will be determined as the year progresses and all selected participants will be notified of any updates. During the application process in January and February, assume the program will be virtual but the opportunity to attend optional in-person events in the respective host cities (Montreal/Edmonton) may arise.
How do the Montreal and Edmonton programs differ?
In 2021, the Montreal and Edmonton programs will have the same dates but be run as separate programs.
The Edmonton program is hosted and run by Amii (Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute), while the Montreal program is run by AI4Good Lab headquarters staff, with significant contributions by our partner organizations.
The foundations of the programs are similar, with a focus on teaching AI to undergraduate women to support their careers in technology, and in harnessing AI as a tool to advance social good. The programs will differ with regards to certain region-specific partners, speakers, mentorships, as well as the participants in the cohort. Due to the strengths of virtual programming, there will be opportunities for virtual integration with the programs, but most activities will be separate.
FAQ - Program Details
What is the content of the AI Curriculum weeks?
The 4-week Curriculum section of the program is an intense introductory bootcamp of the key foundational concepts in AI: mathematical foundations, neural networks, convolutional neural networks, recurrent neural networks, and reinforcement learning.
Participants will learn about these concepts through lectures from various researchers, and through tutorial sessions with their assigned TAs. They will also attend talks and workshops designed to contextualize how the core AI concepts they are learning can be applied in the industry and for promoting social good.
Can you tell me more about the projects?
The projects are developed during the final 3 weeks of the program (the Project weeks). After completing the Curriculum section, participants are able to develop ideas for social good applications. Groups are formed to support these ideas, and these groups work full-time to develop their application. They are supported by graduate student TAs, are matched with industry and academic mentors, and we link them with special-topic experts on an ad-hoc basis.
The groups present their projects and prototypes on Demo Day, which may involve a small, friendly competition. Details of the competition will be disclosed to participants ahead of time.
What types of mentorship and networking opportunities are offered during the program?
The Curriculum weeks include three key-speaker and workshop series:
Industry: Workshops and talks offered by our partners on how AI influences their industries
Research: Invited researchers on the cutting-edge of AI research
Social Good: Not-for-profits, academics, and social entrepreneurs working on advancing the use of AI as a tool for social good
In addition to these workshops, there is at minimum one Industry Night for participants to network with representatives from a variety of industry and academic partners. During in-person programming (social distancing dependent) there are also office visits and happy hours in the evenings with partners.
During the Project weeks, each group is matched with 2-3 academic or industry mentors, who provide them with help in the development of their projects as well as career guidance.
How is the program graded?
The program is focused on self-guided group exploration. No grades are given. Exercises will not be graded, but may be reviewed in work groups to enhance participants' understanding of the material. Attendance at all lectures, talks, and workshops, however, is required.
Will I receive a certificate?
All AI4Good Lab participants who successfully complete the program will receive certificates of completion. The AI4Good Lab is not an accredited institution and does not give official degrees.
FAQ - Eligibility & Application
Who can apply for the Lab?
The ideal AI4Good Lab applicant has a strong math background (linear algebra and multivariable calculus) as well as some knowledge of python. All participants must be current students at the bachelor’s or master’s level, or recent graduates.
Is my background appropriate for the Lab?
If you have taken linear algebra and/or multivariable calculus and have some experience with python, you are eligible to apply.
You must be in at least your second year of bachelor’s studies, a recent graduate, or a master’s student. The program is not designed for high school students nor for those who are already experienced in ML. This is an introductory program to AI.
Finally, we only accept valid residents of Canada: citizens, permanent residents, and those with valid study and/or work permits for the duration of the program.
What will I need to submit as part of the application?
To apply, you will need to submit your CV/Resume and a copy of your most recent transcript (unofficial transcripts are accepted). You will also be asked to respond to 3 short-essay questions (see question below for further details).
What can I do to strengthen my application?
The strongest portions of the application are displaying your vision for the use of AI, aspirations in the technology field, and past experience working in groups.
What is the timeline for acceptance into the program?
The call for applications opens in 2021 on January 15th, with the first close on February 15th. We may extend the deadline for applications, but this will be determined based on key metrics reached by the applicant pool on February 15th. If an extension is approved, the final deadline will be March 1st.
After the call closes, the selection committee will process the applications in 2-4 weeks. The selection committee consists of our founders, management team, and committee members from our partners. All applicants will be notified of their selection status (acceptance, wait list, or rejection) by March 26th at the latest.
Those on the waitlist will be notified of selection on an ad-hoc basis.
FAQ - Costs
How much does it cost to attend the Lab?
The only cost to attend the Lab is a $75 registration fee to hold your spot after selection.
There is no cost to apply and there are no tuition fees.
Do students receive a stipend?
Every participant receives a small stipend after completion of the program. The minimum stipend amount is $500, and the final amount is determined on a yearly basis by the end of the program. The final amount is determined by budgeting activities and is not dependent on the performance of the participants.
What if I have to travel to Montreal or Edmonton?
If in-person programming is possible and required in light of social distancing, travel subsidies may be provided to eligible participants located outside of the key regions. There is no travel necessary to participate in the virtual program.