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Culture / Data / Data Science / Machine Learning

AWS Brings AI/ML Training to Community, Historically Black Colleges

The program includes compute access as well as the same models, tools and other customer features for free.
Dec 2nd, 2022 6:52am by
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LAS VEGAS — Amazon Web Services‘ Machine Learning University launched a bevy of educator training material geared around databases and machine learning, intended for curriculum in community colleges, minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The initiative, announced this week at the AWS Re:Invent conference, is part of a commitment from the cloud giant to educate 29 million people in the trade and science of information technology.

AWS wants to help close the gap in curriculum between elite four-year universities and community colleges, MSIs and HBCUs when it comes to database, artificial intelligence (AI) and ML.

“We want to reach 330 educators throughout the course of next year,” said Mike Miller, AWS director of AI/ML Devices, speaking with The New Stack. The more educators to learn the curriculum, the more database, AI/ML programs will be available for students.

Closing the Gap

The program, which aims to close the skills gap in historically black colleges and universities, focuses on educating educators who will then create curriculum for their students.

The educator training, called educator enablement bootcamp, is built off of Machine Learning University’s curriculum but will include an iteration based on feedback from the pilot group of 22 educators. The program will also include compute access as well as access to the same models, as well as AWS SageMaker, SageMaker notebooks and other customer features for free.

The first iteration of the curriculum is essentially AWS’ Machine Learning University (MLU). Free in its current form, MLU is a self-service platform geared toward developers interested in growing their AI and ML skills. It consists of lectures, hands-on exercises, Jupyter Notebooks and slides. The materials can be found on GitHub and the lectures on YouTube.

The MLU curriculum was sent to the 25 educators across 25 institutions participating in the pilot program, which started this fall. These educators are learning in small-group bootcamp-style cohorts. AWS will incorporate their feedback into the curriculum for the wider release program.

The curriculum doesn’t stop at free course materials. Educators also get free compute access. Faculty and students get access to instructional material through Amazon SageMaker Studio Lab, which Miller boasts is a “nice, simple way to access the curriculum.”

Machine Learning University

“The whole idea behind AWS Machine Learning University is to give students the same type of access that our AWS customers get, but for free so that they can run the same models, all the same kind of capabilities and technology that they’re going to use when they’re out in industry,” Miller said. The additional resources can be accessed by registering for AWS Academy, which unlocks all the AWS services for a complete AI/ML program.

“The elite four-year colleges and universities, they spend anywhere from two to nearly five times as much per student than the less-resourced two-year colleges or community colleges in the U.S.,” he said.

AWS noticed not only the lack of resources, but also the demographics of the students served. Of this Miller said there’s a gap in the sort of skills and accessibility that they have to learning about these new technologies, which are critical for growing innovation around the world.

This was the inspiration behind the educator enablement bootcamp, to help bridge the gap.

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