August 4, 2020 6:08 PM, a moment that will forever be etched in the minds of the Lebanese people. In that moment, the Lebanese people experienced a fear unlike that which can be described. To this day the public consciousness veers slowly towards recovery. Our deepest condolences go out to the families who lost their loved ones and their homes and we bow to those who, after experiencing the trauma, went down to help clean up and rebuild. In a time where all hope fades, the people of Lebanon show us so many reasons to keep on hoping.
The road towards recovery is long and we know that we are still at the very beginning. Beirut AI’s mission has always been to enable our Lebanese community to understand and apply AI so they can upskill, advance, and innovate in their careers! Although our work is not as physical as others, we believe that educating and enabling our community will help provide them with much-needed career and growth opportunities.
So, after months of preparation and being at a loss as to whether the August 2020 Beirut AI Bootcamp should be canceled, we decided to move forward with our 73 registered participants!
2020 has been especially good at throwing challenges at everyone and giving us the opportunity to grow. With the coronavirus, general unrest, and inconsistent quarantine laws in Lebanon, we concluded that the best way to conduct the Beirut AI Bootcamp this time is online. Migrating to an online bootcamp came with increased accessibility to participants that would have otherwise been unable to attend, leading to a record number of participants! The August 2020 Beirut AI Bootcamp proudly graduated 73 participants with diverse backgrounds. The participants’ backgrounds ranged from university students with majors such as computer science to psychology to working professionals.
At Beirut AI, we’ve always wanted to make AI accessible to as many people as possible. We define access to have two parts. The first part is streamlined and easy to digest theoretical and practical knowledge of different models and concepts in Data Science, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. The second is ensuring that the community is a part of a larger network that provides it with opportunities to grow.
During the Bootcamp, we always provide both areas of access. The bootcamp kicks off with intensive lessons that start with an Introduction to Data Science and build foundations solid enough to allow participants to end with lessons as complex as Computer Vision, Deep Learning, and Time Series Analysis all in one week. In the final two days of the week, we host a challenge for the participants to create a project with a team they put together on the spot. The teams get mentors and exposure to judges that give them the access that we believe they need to the wider network. If you would like to know more about the program and schedule visit the Bootcamp Website.
The challenge this time around was to keep the spirit of the networking part of the bootcamp alive so as it is not lost due to the distance. We ensured that we provided activities that drove the participants to interact with each other almost daily. During the breaks, our activities included ice-breakers, trivia nights, and a yoga session which allowed the participants to both blow off some steam and foster professional relationships. By the time the project teams needed to be formed, the participants had a good idea of the people around them and they could effectively choose the teammates that would help them reach their goals.
The project challenge this time around was crucial for us. Why? After experiencing the devastation and destruction of both the city and morale, we found hope and we were extremely inspired by the enthusiasm of the Bootcamp participants. They showed us that no matter the odds, the Lebanese people will find a way to live, grow, build, and solve. Despite the devastation and despair, the 73 participants not only pulled through and excelled throughout the program, but they also showed us just how they can creatively put what they learned to use.
Although this year has been surprising us with one blow after the other, through the projects that the participants created and presented we know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the bootcamp individuals began to formulate their project ideas and discuss them in relevant channels and in some of the breaks. In the final two days of the bootcamp, the challenge between 13 different teams ensued for a chance to win 3 months of mentorship and free access to Beirut AI workshops.
Although every team amazed us with the skills they showcased in their projects, three teams impressed our judges!
This team trained a model to predict an individual’s personality type on the MBTI scale. They did so using a Kaggle dataset that had 8600 rows of data that were labeled with the user’s MBTI personality type as well as contained 50 of the individual’s latest social media posts. This project can prove extremely helpful in contexts of targeted marketing campaigns that help individuals find exactly what satisfies their unique needs!
Lebanese entrepreneurs have to fight against a lot of odds to successfully launch their products. But what is their probability of success? Modelpreneur aims to predict the likelihood of entrepreneurs’ success. From a dataset that contains the data of over 170,000 entrepreneurs, the team extracted the data of over 2,400 Lebanese entrepreneurs to train their model. For each entrepreneur, the dataset included over 240 personal and business attributes that allowed the team’s model to evaluate the likelihood of the entrepreneur’s success. Modelpreneur can help the investor as much as it can help the entrepreneurs themselves. It allows the investor to take on less risk while the entrepreneur can get a flag as to whether they should rethink their ideas or maybe pivot.
Conversations are the essence of fostering relationships, but even conversation is not accessible to all. The team behind Esmaani wanted to ensure that everyone’s voice would be heard. Esmaani trained a model that translates Arabic sign language to text and vice versa. This allows those with a hearing disability to interact with those around them with much less friction.
Although these were the teams with the projects that stood out the most, we applaud every single person who participated in the bootcamp and contributed to a project. You show us that no matter how hard things get you can always find a way to improve the world around you with the knowledge that you have.
Want to be inspired by the projects that the teams made? Check out the Bootcamp’s closing ceremony!
We talk a big game about data! But we haven’t even shown you ours yet! Let’s take a look at what the Beirut AI August 2020 Bootcamp’s participation looked like in numbers. This time we had an unprecedented number of attendees. Up to 73 participants joined us!
The participants’ ages varied between 17 and 45, with a concentration at the ages of 20 and 21. Although the younger generation seems more interested, it is also worth noting that many people already advanced in their careers are looking towards acquiring new skills or honing old ones. Cause it’s never too late to learn something new!
In terms of participants’ backgrounds, it varied between students and professionals. The majority though were students, those of which came from many different backgrounds. Despite the fact that the majority of the participants’ backgrounds are technical it inspires us to see those coming from psychology, business analytics, and other non-technical backgrounds. We can’t wait to see how these participants apply the AI knowledge they acquired through the Beirut AI Bootcamp in their fields.
Although the participants in this bootcamp were mostly male, let’s take a look at what female participation has been like over our past bootcamps! Our first bootcamp in August of 2019 had a shocking 16% female participation. Fast forward one year later and the number has almost doubled! We believe having great female representation across the Beirut AI community encourages more women to pursue careers in AI. We hope that women in Lebanon, aspiring to have a career in AI, know that with the right skillset they have as much of a chance to succeed as anyone. We’re excited to see how this trend continues across our future events.
We are extremely proud of the reach that our bootcamp came to have and we cannot wait to share with you what our numbers look like for the coming bootcamps!
As always, we want to say a special and warm-hearted thank you to our partners for this bootcamp. Our community sponsor Zaka and education partners Microsoft gave the Beirut AI Bootcamp a boost that allows us to continue to meet and exceed your expectations.
We hope that our partnerships continue to be fruitful for future events.
Although Beirut is on the road to recovery, the city still needs your help and support.
Below you can find links where you can donate to reputable organizations that are directly involved in helping those in need at this time:
Thank you for your constant support and kindness.