Last Day: Research Presentations, Poster Session, and Staying Involved in AI

After a quick breakfast, the girls jumped into their last research project session. They worked hard to put the finishing touches on their project boards and rehearse their upcoming presentations.IMG_4417

Much like last year, each project group had the chance to present everything they’d been working on for the past two weeks. Campers didn’t just explain the technical details of their work, they also viewed their AI research through the lens of social good. In particular, the four groups covered how to utilize natural language processing to aid disaster relief, using computer vision to make hospitals safer, writing machine learning algorithms to detect various cancers in the human genome, and programming autonomous cars to revolutionize transportation. We’re so proud of what everyone has learned and accomplished in just two weeks!

SAILORS students and staff took a camp photo at lunch, and then moved into the poster session portion of the afternoon. Members of the Stanford AI Laboratory were all invited to take a look at the four projects and ask questions.

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Following the poster gallery walk was the very last personal growth session: staying involved in AI, and in computer science as a whole. Representatives from organizations like she++, Girls Teaching Girls to Code, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) came to speak to the girls about potential next steps they could take to expand their skill set and keep in touch with the community.

The day was concluded with an exit survey, which mirrored the questions in the survey the girls took on the first day of camp. As Profei-Fei Li had explained during orientation, rigorous and quantitative  evaluation is an integral part of SAILORS. Even though the official program has ended, the curriculum chairs will continue to work tirelessly to read through the girls’ feedback in order to continue improving this initiative for next year.feifei final

A giant thank you to everyone who made SAILORS 2016 the huge success that it was: professors, graduate students, guest speakers, project mentors, sponsors, last year’s alumni, and especially the students and their parents who made the effort to come out to Stanford every day for the past two weeks! It’s been a blast, but our hope is that this summer is only just the beginning. We’re beyond excited to add another 24 motivated girls to our alumni network and continue to champion diversity in the hugely promising field of artificial intelligence.group final

Day 8: Human Genomics, Stanford’s Autonomous Car, and Field Trip to Dropbox

The SAILORS arrived this morning excited for today’s field trip to the Dropbox office! But before that, they enjoyed a breakfast Q&A with Professor Gill Bejerano, who talked about how he ended up in the field of genomics despite starting college with little interest in either biology or computer science.

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After breakfast, Prof. Bejerano went into more detail about how machine learning is critical for finding the “bugs” in people’s genomes that cause disease. As he explained, combing through a patient’s genome manually is too expensive and time-consuming to keep up with demand; researchers are therefore looking toward automation to solve this problem.

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The girls then headed outside to see Stanford’s self-driving car in person! CS department member Dr. Brice Rebsamen explained how the car worked, but also talked about the problems that he and his colleagues encountered. From blind spots to bad weather, there are a lot of difficult issues that autonomous car researchers need to resolve in order for their vehicles to be safe and ready for the road.

Following the demo was this week’s field trip! The campers had the chance to tour the Dropbox office in San Francisco. They first met Justin Bethune, the company’s global diversity program manager. After a casual lunch, the girls split off into groups to tour the office, from the rooftop garden to the colorful working spaces.

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The girls meet Judith Williams, global head of diversity at Dropbox

The day concluded with a panel featuring five female employees of Dropbox, who spoke about their background and life at the company. They also gave advice to the SAILORS girls about staying motivated while pursuing a STEM career.

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We hope everyone had fun today, and we’re looking forward to the final two days of the program!

Day 5: Computation, Cognition, 3D Reconstruction, and more!

The first week of SAILORS ended with yet another exciting day! As usual, the morning started off with a casual breakfast Q&A with a professor. Today, the principal investigator of Stanford’s Computation & Cognition Lab, Noah Goodman, came and introduced the girls to how he applies computational models to cognitive science.

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During his lecture, Prof. Goodman went into further detail about his research area. He described several of his experiments in which a probabilistic model could predict the thought patterns of people with near-perfect accuracy. These models were even capable of accounting for nonliteral language such as hyperbole!

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One of Prof. Goodman’s graduate students, Erin Bennett, and PhD student Rachel Luo then led a tutorial on inductive reasoning. The SAILORS girls first played several engaging games that required considering what other people might be thinking, such as the well-known prisoner’s dilemma. Using what they learned from these games, they programmed their own probabilistic algorithm to represent such “reasoning about reasoning” situations.

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Playing a cooperation reasoning game

Friday afternoon was just as action-packed as the first half of the day! After lunch, this year’s campers had a Q&A session with current college students and SAILORS alumni from last year. The panel talked about their experiences both in SAILORS and in school, giving advice to the girls about getting involved in and navigating the world of computer science as women. Throughout the conversation, the panelists emphasized the importance of not being afraid to ask questions, and having self-confidence when reaching out for research and internship opportunities.

Following the personal growth session, computer graphics PhD student Angela Dai came in to lead a demo of 3D reconstruction. She took a scan of the room using depth-sensing technology, explaining that she and the 2016 program director Iro Armeni were working on installing that system onto a robot. The girls also learned about some of the challenges that the field faces currently, such as scanning reflective surfaces or having the computer actually recognize what object it just scanned.

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The day ended with group research sessions. With half the program now over, the teams’ projects are really starting to take shape. We hope the campers have enjoyed this past week as much as we have, and we’re looking forward to coming back on Monday!

Day 2: Computational Biology, Nearest Neighbors, and a Haptics Demo

Day 2 of SAILORS 2016 was action-packed! The morning started off with a Q&A and discussion with Olga Russakovsky, one of the masterminds behind this outreach program and a current postdoctoral research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Olga shares her experience of being a woman in STEM during breakfast.

After breakfast with Olga, the girls learned about computational biology from Professor Anshul Kundaje. The lecture covered various topics in the field, including how machine learning can be utilized to recognize patterns in the DNA variations of patients afflicted with certain diseases. Prof. Kundaje also explained how such AI systems will be key for personalized predictive diagnoses and treatment regimens in the future.

Following the lecture, PhD students Abigail See and Rachel Luo led a tutorial on the nearest neighbors algorithm. Using Python, the girls coded their own movie recommender, playing with different features like genre and rating to try to create an accurate system.

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After lunch, the students continued to work on their research projects with their graduate mentors. The research groups are preparing for short presentations that will take place during Thursday evening’s banquet; students also improved their coding abilities and recognized the potential for great humanistic impact in the field of AI.

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Campers working on using computer vision to improve hospital safety.

In the Stanford robotics lab, the girls had the chance to listen to Professor Oussama Khatib talk about his breathtaking experience working with OceanOne, “a humanoid diving robot outfitted with human vision, haptic force feedback and an artificial brain” as described by Bjorn Carey for Stanford News. Earlier this year, OceanOne recovered artifacts that had been untouched for centuries in the sunken wreck of King Louis XIV’s flagship, La Lune. They were even able to test out the advanced haptic technology firsthand!

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This busy day was topped off with this summer’s first personal growth session. Co-founder of Embrace Linus Liang came to teach the girls about the design thinking process. In the personal growth session, they worked both individually and with their peers to try to come up with an optimal design for a book bag.

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We hope the students are starting to get familiar with one another and with the SAILORS environment as the second day of the program comes to an end!