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.

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.


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.

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!


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.


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!


Day 7: Human-Robot Interaction, Graph Search Algorithms, and Stereotype Threat Intervention

Day 7 kicked off with a breakfast and lecture with Prof. Anca Dragan, who talked about human robot interaction. Her lecture covered numerous topics that ranged from how a robot navigates an environment to different methods of object manipulation. The lecture was also dotted with numerous videos of robots completing a variety of tasks.


A tutorial on graph search algorithms led by PhD student Angel Chang followed the lecture. Students learned about many different algorithms, such as  the breadth first search, the depth first search, and Dijkstra’s algorithm.

After a lunch with AI professors and PhD students, campers had a personal growth session on stereotype intervention, where they had the opportunity to write letters to future SAILORS campers. After that, students engaged in a discussion regarding their experiences facing stereotypes.

A student focuses on writing a letter to a future SAILORS camper.

A social hour followed the personal growth session, where campers mingled with AI professors and PhD students.

The day concluded with another session with the camper’s research projects.

The computer vision group had a quick field trip to Lucile Packard hospital to check out the hand sanitizer sensors that were installed. 
The computer vision group had a quick field trip to Lucile Packard hospital to check out the hand sanitizer sensors that were installed.

With only 3 more days of SAILORS left, we hope the campers are having fun learning and making new friends.

Day 6: Natural Language Processing, Design Thinking, and a Haptic Sugrical Demo

Day 6 kicked off with a breakfast and a lecture with Professor Percy Liang. Liang talked about natural language processing (NLP) and touched on numerous concepts ranging from the challenges NLP faces to how NLP is implemented in the real world.


A tutorial on extracting meaning from correlation, led by PhD student Will Hamilton, followed Prof. Liang’s lecture. Students learned how researchers “teach” computers to understand words and how scientists can implement similar techniques to other areas of study, such as gene analysis.

After a lunch with AI professors and PhD students, the campers learned design thinking from co-founder of Embrace Linus Liang. Students applied the design thinking process into creating a backpack. After the lesson, students were encouraged to apply this technique to solve all kinds of problems.


A demo of various haptic devices followed the design thinking lecture. Campers had the opportunity to interact with a surgical device that gave haptic feedback, a haptic 3D modeling stylus, and a personal assistant robot.


After the demo, the students concluded the day with a session with their research projects.

We hope everybody had fun learning about all the different concepts and ideas today and we can’t wait for day 7!

Day 4: Robotics Demos and Field Trip to Computer History Museum

Day 4 began with a relaxed breakfast where the girls had a Q/A session with SAILORS teaching assistant and operation chair Pamela Toman.

Campers then had the opportunity to engage in a lecture about robotics with Dr. Mohammad Khansari. The presentation covered a wide range of topics ranging from the types of robots to the impact of robots in the real world. Many robots, such as haptic touch robots and underwater robots, were also demo-ed during this session. Students had the opportunity not only to learn how these machines worked, but also got to interact with and control the robots.

PicMonkey Collage

After the lecture, the students had another session with their research projects. A field trip to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View followed the research project activities. Prof. Edward Feigenbaum, Penny Nii, and Sue Mickel led tours that taught students everything from the evolution of computers to the development of AI.

PicMonkey Collagem

From seeing the Babbage engine, the world’s first automatic computing machine, to learning about notable women in computer science history, like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and women of ENIAC, the museum trip proved not only to be fun but also educational.


As Day 4 draws to a conclusion, we hope that the campers are just as excited as we are for Day 5!