Students can now sign up for free course in AI, choose pace of study and level of difficulty

The programme aims to reach over 15,000 students over the next three years, said AI Singapore. PHOTO: AISINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Students can now take free artificial intelligence (AI) courses from basic to advanced level as part of efforts to equip young people with skills in an emerging field.

Open to students in secondary schools, junior colleges, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), local universities and other institutes of higher learning, the programme aims to reach more than 15,000 students over the next three years, said AI Singapore on Wednesday (July 27).

Students will need to form groups of at least 10 before they can apply for the programme run by AI Singapore - which was launched by the National Research Foundation in 2017 to nurture AI talent in Singapore.

The students will study the subject at three levels, based on their proficiency, and study at their own pace. They will also be given access to community groups and monthly sessions with AI Singapore, it added.

These will teach them programming skills and let them explore machine learning and statistical and critical thinking at their own pace, AI Singapore said.

Students receive certificates upon completing each level, including one offered by Google Cloud - the Google Professional Machine Learning Engineer Certification.

Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang, who spoke at the event held at Google Singapore's office in Pasir Panjang, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) will provide $1.8 million in funding for the programme.

Ms Gan said AI is becoming an integral part of Singaporeans' lives, from robot cleaners to digital assistants, and is even being used by MOE in the classroom.

She said: "I hope such efforts will gather speed and ignite interest among even more of our students to pursue Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and AI-related careers."

AI Singapore director of AI Innovation Laurence Liew said the three-year initiative, called the AI Student Outreach Programme, hopes to expand AI skills and literacy beyond specialists.

In his address, he said: "We need to have AI talents at all levels, not just at the universities."

It will also complement AI Singapore's other outreach programmes, such as its LearnAI programme for primary schools, he said.

Mr Liew said the programme has two key planks.

First, it hopes to create a pipeline of talent to fill jobs in the AI sector, which is an emerging sector.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he said: "Everybody thinks you must have a PhD to be able to do AI. But we need people to fill other roles, as well, we need engineers and people who know how to use and build AI systems."

Second, the programme hopes to help young Singaporeans become savvy with the technology as it begins to permeate every aspect of modern life, he added.

AI Singapore added it would give 21 students internships each year with partners like the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies - an agency under the Ministry of Defence that uses digital technology for national security.

ITE infocomms student Hervin Darmawan Sie created a program to detect utensils at hawker centres that have not been returned. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Several students presented AI-related projects at the launch event.

Among them was ITE infocomms student Hervin Darmawan Sie, 18.

Although he is not studying AI, Mr Sie created a programme using resources from AI Singapore that detects utensils at hawker centres that have not been returned.

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