SINGAPORE - Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students looking to hone their skills in artificial intelligence (AI) now have access to two new facilities.
The institute has launched its new drone and robot hub and advanced computing lab to prepare its students for the future.
Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling launched the facilities at ITE College West on Thursday (Feb 10).
The hub will train students from various disciplines to programme drones and robots to carry out tasks or perform in an indoor environment.
With the ability to perform synchronised movements and navigate obstacles, the robots and drones can be used for staging mass display performances in the entertainment industry, or security surveillance and search-and-rescue missions.
The hub, which has a 6m-high ceiling, is equipped with a 14m by 3m curved light-emitting diode video wall and a portable stage platform for students to design and programme drones and robots.
The advanced computing lab provides students with the resources to use high performance computing (HPC). They can aggregate the computing power remotely on a virtual platform to develop and train AI applications and models.
The drone and robot hub is open to students specialising in AI and automation in the Higher Nitec Electronics Engineering course, and members of the Electronics Engineering Club.
It will also be used to train secondary school students taking part in the ITE's annual technical skills competition IgnITE and adult learners taking SkillsFuture HPC Continuing Education and Training courses.
The advanced computing lab is open to students from the Higher Nitec courses IT Applications Development, Data Engineering, AI Applications, and Electronics Engineering. It is also open to ITE's AI Memories Club.
The new facilities are part of a bigger plan to make ITE students more employable.
The institute is also forming new industry partnerships to seek out more work experience and opportunities for its students.
At the event on Thursday, it signed partnership agreements with four technology companies specialising in AI - Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company, Intel Corp, SoftBank Telecom Singapore and Tata Consultancy Services.
The firms will work with ITE by providing internship opportunities and supporting the school's AI curriculum development.
For instance, Intel will be extending its AI for Future Workforce programme to ITE. The company will train ITE staff to facilitate the programme for students.
SoftBank Telecom Singapore will be supporting the set-up of an AI and robotics training facility at ITE College West.
Two of its signature humanoid robots, Pepper and Nao, are being used for training at ITE's new drone and robot hub.
Dr Anjan Ghosh, executive director of government affairs in Asia, Latin America and Canada at Intel, said that AI is estimated to drive an increase of US$15 trillion (S$20 trillion) in global gross domestic product by 2030.
"To unleash the huge transformational value of AI, it is imperative now for everyone to understand and be comfortable with AI, to demystify and democratise AI."
Mr Mohamed Irshad, head of corporate affairs in Asean at Tata Consultancy Services, said the firm hopes to connect ITE teachers and students to opportunities in the digital economy, and build "equitable, inclusive pathways to success".
Mr Ho Wei Zhe, 18, a second-year Higher Nitec electronics engineering student, uses the advanced computing lab to create AI art, as part of the AI memories enterprise club.
"The lab helps students in AI training as it gives us the opportunity to use high performance computing," said the club president, citing the use of Google Colab and National Supercomputing Centre HPC.
"The new lab is better than the previous lab as it has more computers and allows more students to learn about AI and HPC," he said.
The club will be recruiting more Year 1 and 2 students from all disciplines to expose them to AI and HPC skill sets as these technologies cut across all courses and industries, he added.
Mr Abdullah Wira Musa, 18, a second-year Nitec student studying web application, uses the robot and drone hub for a module on AI.
"The hub is really welcome as it's a dedicated space for testing robots and drones. Previously, we were using a shared space."
He said it was safer flying drones in the hub as it provides a larger space and students can control drones from the gallery upstairs. They can put the robots and obstacles on the elevated platform, while earlier, they just used tables, he added.
"Normally, you only get to see drones in movies but getting to see your hours of hard work playing out in the (drone and robot) hub is very cool."