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Young Emiratis highlight AI’s importance as MBZUAI training boot camp concludes

Young Emiratis highlight AI’s importance as MBZUAI training boot camp concludes
29 Jan 2024 08:28

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)

A cohort of young Emiratis trained in the ever-important skills of AI graduated from the two-week long Emirati AI Boot Camp hosted by Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence’s (MBZUAI) Center for Integrative Artificial Intelligence (CIAI) Engineering Team on Friday, January 26.

During a ceremony at Masdar City celebrating participants’ accomplishments and marking the end of the intensive two-week programme, participants Noora Al Hajeri, Ahmed Alshamsi, Mariam Alshamsi, Mariam Alzaabi, Amena Alzaabi, and Sara Alzaabi, spoke highly of the programme, saying it greatly improved their skills in AI and relevant subjects.

Speaking to Aletihad, Ahmed Alshamsi, a 23-year-old computer science graduate from United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), expressed: “I enrolled in the programme to deepen my interest in AI. Throughout the programme, I integrated development elements, successfully crafted the bilingual chatbot ‘Bahar’ using Jais LLM (large language model), and overcame challenges with valuable mentor support. My vision extends to utilising AI for applications in air quality monitoring and deepfake solutions, and this shows the significance of investing in Emirati talent.”

Biomedical Engineer Noora Al Hajeri, who holds an Honours BSc from Abu Dhabi University and is currently employed at Philips, conveyed her motivation for participating in the AI Boot Camp.

“My goal was to deepen my understanding of AI, enhance practical skills, leverage AI in cutting-edge healthcare for a patient care revolution, and contribute to positioning the UAE as an AI-driven healthcare hub. The collaborative boot camp environment played a crucial role in facilitating meaningful interactions,” Al Hajeri told Aletihad.

In conversation with Aletihad, Yue Peng, the manager of the AI training programme, said that it helps Emirati students build their engineering capabilities. Likewise, Ruiju Guo, CIAI Department Coordinator at MBZUAI, emphasised the programme’s goal to cultivate AI talents in the UAE, highlighting the mutual learning process achieved in communicating with students, who provided valuable insights into local culture.

Mentors Qinghao Zhang, Zaqi Sliverano, Gerald Gao, and Nikhil Ranjan also shared insights with Aletihad during the Emirati AI Boot Camp.

Qinghao Zhang, who led two students in the programme, said that he was impressed by their genius, intelligence, and hardworking nature, noting that they left a positive impression.

As a mentor, Zaqi Sliverano expressed delight in guiding students through GIS-based chat application development, and was impressed by their quick learning and adaptability.

Gerald Gao said that the AI boot camp was a valuable opportunity to collaborate with local students, describing the experience as “smooth”.

Nikhil Ranjan expressed his appreciation for the programme’s engagement with local students, pointing out key highlights such as experiencing university culture, and collaborating with high-achievers. Ranjan also noted that the cohort achieved a project in less than two weeks, despite a longer initial plan.

The initiative engaged BSc, MSc, and PhD students in the realm of advanced Arabic LLM, with a specific focus on “Jais”, the world’s highest quality Arabic LLM. During the programme, participants learned how to craft impactful Arabic LLM applications, and navigate the unique challenges associated with AI.

The event commenced with engaging interviews of the trainees, creating a vibrant atmosphere at the Visitor’s Centre lounge. Sultan Al Hajji, the Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations at MBZUAI, delivered a thought-provoking opening address, extending his appreciation to sponsors, trainers, and esteemed guests for their support.

Trainees took the stage for individual five-minute project presentations, showcasing their acquired AI skills. A dynamic Q&A session followed, allowing attendees to engage with the trainees and gain deeper insights into their projects.
The ceremony’s highlight was the awarding of certificates in recognition of the trainees’ dedication, culminating in a final speech from Al Hajji, who expressed gratitude to all participants and stakeholders. The team then gathered for a group photo, symbolising the collaborative spirit.

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