Hey hi hello, nice to meet you! We’re ACM AI Outreach, the branch of ACM AI dedicated to inspiring youth in the LA area to learn about artificial intelligence and machine learning. We began in April 2019, and quickly became ACM AI’s fastest-growing initiative.
We were recently featured in A.I. For Anyone’s newsletter.
High-School Outreach Course
AI and ML have become extremely prevalent in society, from powering the voice assistants on our smartphones to improving medical diagnoses. Regardless of what areas high schoolers plan to pursue upon graduation, they’re likely to encounter AI and ML-related technologies in their future careers.
As such, in Fall 2019, the Outreach team partnered with ACM Teach LA to organize a high-school course to teach AI and ML theory and applications. We designed the course from scratch, from the ground up. Working together for hours each week, we crafted each set of slides, developed each Colab notebook, carefully designed each homework assignment, and curated a list of amazing external content to engage our students while benefiting their understanding of AI theory and applications. You can check out our freely-accessible resources any time.
What kept us going? Our firm belief that, by spreading knowledge of AI/ML to youth, they will become interested in exploring technology-related fields!
Our first iteration of the course took place at North Hollywood High School during the 2019-2020 academic year. We loved teaching each week; the students’ enthusiasm, curiosity, kindness, and diligence made our site visits worth it!
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to halt site visits starting mid-March. But, we are still developing online content! We are in a unique position to re-define the role of technology in education. So, we are making a “You Belong in AI!” podcast series, short videos, and even TikToks to continue to connect with our students while they are learning from home 😃 We are also working hard to update and add to our resources, so continue to check out the Teach LA website. Notably, we are collaborating with the Teach LA dev team to engineer modules that help students visualize gradient descent, how to compute MSE loss, and perform forward propagation in a neural network (coming soon!).
During the 2019-2020 school year, we held Demystifying AI, an event which aimed to expose aspiring entrepreneurs to avenues by which they could integrate AI into their products. We have also run workshops and tabled at many on-campus events, like QWER Hacks and exploretech.la. Additionally, we have visited schools, like the Archer School for Girls, to introduce students to the world of AI.
Meet our Team
Outreach is fortunate to have an AMAZING team. You can meet each of them and learn what they worked on, as well as how they plan on improving UCLA and beyond through their hard work and brilliance!
Arjun Subramonian, Outreach Director 2020-2021
Hi, I’m Arjun! I’m a computer science major and I joined ACM AI Outreach during my second year at UCLA. I was drawn to this initiative because I have always been passionate about inspiring youth to pursue computer science and working towards more diverse representation in tech. In high school, I taught Python programming, in Spanish, to kids as young as 5 and even grandparents at Sunday Friends. When I came to UCLA, I immediately joined ACM Teach LA, guiding the learning of elementary schoolers at Brockton Elementary about Scratch, Python, file systems, and the Internet. At UCLA, I co-organized QWER Hacks, Major League Hacking’s first LGBTQIA hackathon, which aims to bring visibility to and provide a safe space for the queer community in tech.
I’m excited to serve as Outreach Director during the 2020-2021 school year! I can’t wait to refine our course content, one-off initiatives, pedagogy, and online modules. Additionally, I’m excited to exploit our unique position to re-define the role of technology in education by making podcasts, short videos, and even Tik Toks to connect with our students. I love spreading knowledge of AI/ML to youth and inspiring them to explore technology-related fields!
Click here to learn more about me!
Aman Oberoi, Outreach Officer 2020-2021
My name is Aman Oberoi and I am a first-year CS major trying to double major in math. I’ve been volunteering since I was 8 and when I started off at UCLA as a freshman, I knew that my college experience wouldn’t be complete if I wasn’t able to help others out. I submitted an application to ACM AI as soon as I found out that they were recruiting students for their Outreach program. I had been learning about machine learning in high school and had been experimenting with CNNs in the summer before college started, so I was overjoyed when I was accepted to Outreach as it meant that I would be able to not only solidify my knowledge in AI but also help high school students venture into the vastly interesting subject of artificial intelligence.
My first two quarters with Outreach have been nothing short of amazing. I have thoroughly enjoyed creating content and working on improving my knowledge with like-minded peers. Our mentors have been extremely helpful and have taught us the details behind concepts such as back-propagation and filters better than many paid courses can. In the next few quarters, I wish to continue working in Outreach to create and teach courses to high school students. I want to work on making our courses more engaging and insightful to ensure that our students are learning as well as they possibly can. I also intend to apply to the projects team in ACM AI so that I can learn to apply my ML skills on real world projects and infuse these experiences into the content we teach. I also wish to work towards getting into leadership roles into the future to help manage ACM AI, and Outreach especially, as well as it is being managed right now.
Jason Jewik, Outreach Officer 2020-2021
Heyo! My name is Jason, and I’m a first-year Computer Science major. I joined ACM AI Outreach because as machine learning becomes an increasingly powerful tool–which in some cases, can even make decisions of its own–it’s important for people of all ages and walks of life to gain some sense of literacy on artificial intelligence. Certainly, a new generation of software engineers will need training to specialize in and push the boundaries of this technological frontier, but even for the general public, it is necessary to have some understanding of artificial intelligence. People ought to be cognizant of the current limitations of AI and to also be discussing the ethical dilemmas that pop up wherever it is applied. I hope to achieve these goals of increased awareness and education regarding AI through my service on the outreach team.
This year, I’ve had a lot of fun learning about AI and the mathematics behind machine learning. But more than that, I’ve also enjoyed making lecture slides and homework content for the North Hollywood High School course. My favorite assignment to design was on Bayesian reasoning, where I created a problem in which the students had to predict the likelihood someone is a Star Wars fan. I also volunteered at exploretech.la, an event that invites high schoolers to engage with tech in a higher-education setting. In particular, I helped with a demo that introduced students to coding and also manned a booth where I talked about TeachLA and its mission to promote access to computer science education.
Next year, I’m looking forward to improving ACM AI’s curriculum based on the lessons we learned this year. I hope to have more inclusive and more meaningful discussions about AI with diverse sets of people too. Go ACM!
Kai Tota, Outreach Officer 2020-2021
Hi, my name is Kai! I am a first-year computer science major who was a part of ACM AI Outreach this past year. I joined ACM because I was drawn to their overall mission to create a community of like-minded individuals focused on learning and applying computing-related concepts within UCLA and the greater LA community. I was specifically inspired to join the AI committee because of their beginner-friendly initiatives and devotion to spreading awareness about the increasing applications of artificial intelligence in the modern world.
Coming from a high school which was not able to offer many computer science related courses—let alone artificial intelligence—I especially appreciate contributing to Outreach’s initiative to teach a year-long AI/ML course at a local high school. For instance, one of my favorite contributions was creating our Optimization and Regularization lesson. While researching and building the content, I was able to learn the foundations of machine learning myself. Having the opportunity to explore many resources and consolidate all the information into content suitable for high schoolers boosted my understanding! Furthermore, our one-off events including Demystifying AI and the Research Panel have been great learning experiences and have further fueled my passion to develop and practice the technical skills of ML/DL.
In the 2020-2021 school year, I look forward to tackling on the new one-off events mentioned this year and improving the current content of workshops and projects. I am most excited to continue working alongside my fellow knowledgeable, motivated, and extremely talented officers and mentors to spark new ideas and meaningfully contribute to our community!
Mat Ruíz, Outreach Officer 2020-2021
Hiya! I’m Mat, a first-year CS major. Coming into UCLA I knew I wanted to do something with AI, but I also wanted to give back to the greater community through teaching other underrepresented individuals. Seeing an opportunity to teach high schoolers AI in Outreach as an intern was a no brainer.
As an intern this year my role was to collaborate with fellow interns to create slideshows on AI topics such as neural networks and bayes theorem. I also had the opportunity to teach these slides at the local North Hollywood High School. Being an intern was also a good learning opportunity. I had the chance to learn the basics of ML and AI from our two amazing mentors Arjun and Sharvani. Learning theory and building successful ML models has definitely continued to motivate me to help grow the AI community at UCLA.
I think next year I want to continue to grow the AI community through new avenues. Expanding to more high schools, developing an intern onboarding module, holding AI events for all, are some of the ideas I have in mind for next year. AI is the industry of the future, and I’m excited to work on making it diverse and open to all.
Click here to learn more about me!
Maya Raman, Outreach Officer 2020-2021
Hello! I’m Maya, and I am a first-year computer science student. I applied to join ACM AI in a typical last-minute fashion (started 14 minutes before the deadline, to be exact) because I knew it had something to do with artificial intelligence, but I didn’t know exactly what. I received an interview during which I revealed just how abysmal my knowledge of AI was, and somehow became an intern for ACM AI Outreach.
Since that interview, I’ve curated presentations on logistic regression and neural networks for Outreach’s artificial intelligence/machine learning course, built a convolutional neural network using Keras, and learned so much in the process. I’ve gained confidence by sharing my knowledge at Outreach events like exploretech.la and Wow! That’s Engineering. It feels like I’ve pushed the limits of what I’m capable of, but there’s still so much more fun to have! On top of that, I’ve met some of the most inclusive, innovative, and all-around wonderful people I could have dreamed of finding here at UCLA—more than anything, I’m proud to call them mentors and friends.
So what’s next? I hope to join my colleagues in pushing for more diversity, identity- and department-wise, at ACM AI’s events and in the artificial intelligence field in general. As an officer next quarter/year, I hope to help plan events such as panels that show the widespread application of AI to other fields. I want to show people who don’t necessarily see their image reflected in AI that they do belong in this domain, and have the potential to achieve more than incredible things.
Click here to learn more about me!
Nisha McNealis, Outreach Officer 2020-2021
Hi, I’m Nisha!! I’m a first-year CS major from the Bay Area, and I was an ACM AI Outreach intern this year. I think AI is a mind-blowing field with an unparalleled potential for impact: from diagnosing diseases to steering self-driving cars to generating bizarre pick-up lines, there are so many ways that AI can change our lives. I joined ACM AI Outreach because I think that everyone should have the chance to learn about the next frontier in the computer science world. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to work with an extraordinary team to teach courses, host panels, and plan events with this goal in mind.
I was an instructor this quarter, so in addition to creating some of our content behind-the-scenes, I got to go out to NHHS and meet a class full of insanely smart high schoolers. COVID-19 cut our sessions short so I was only able to teach a few times, but watching students engage with such complicated material was the most rewarding experience I’ve had at UCLA and I can’t wait to be back in a classroom next fall with even more learning tools and even better content.
Next year, I’m excited to expand ACM AI’s influence on campus and beyond, whether that be through partnering with new student organizations, expanding our AI/ML course to different high schools, or working with AI companies. I love our team — we’re a group of innovators with tons of ideas, and I know we’re more than ready to make them a reality. I can’t wait to take on more responsibility and help my fellow officers carry on the legacy Sharvani and Arjun created.
Click here to learn more about me!
Sharvani Jha, Outreach Consultant 2020-2021
Hi, I’m Sharvani! I’m a third-year computer science major and I was the Outreach Director for the 2019-2020 school year. I was drawn to this initiative because as I worked on our workshops and projects initiatives last year, I realized there was a lot more ACM AI could be doing for both the UCLA community and beyond. Thus, I pushed for an Outreach initiative to be created to spearhead these novel efforts, and voila! Two quarters later, we’re eight officers strong and absolutely killing it. Over the past year, as Outreach Director I helped spearhead the creation of our high school course, pushed for and presented at our first iteration of Demystifying AI, helped set Outreach’s blog in motion, and pushed for a moonshots initiative to be born in ACM overall. I also learned a lot about project management, team management, and the work it takes for dreams to become a reality.
Going into the 2020-2021 school year, I cannot wait for Outreach to use the lessons it’s learned through taking on all the new events + programs its developed this year to help refine our workshops and projects initiatives, while also instigating a general culture of embracing new ideas and their potential to improve the community around us.