The future belongs to artificial intelligence (AI). However, while many discuss the theory of AI, experts like Rachel Woods, former data scientist at Facebook and now AI educator and expert, emphasize the enormous importance of practical AI programs in their podcast interviews. As she aptly notes, "Without practical application, AI remains an abstract concept. Through hands-on training, companies can recognize and harness the true value of AI." But how can this transformation be efficiently and effectively achieved? The STARTPLATZ AI Summer School, Germany's first summer school focusing on generative AI, demonstrated a promising path this summer.
The AI Summer School: A Paradigm of Practical AI Training
The AI Summer School, organized by the recently established STARTPLATZ AI Hub, a part of NRW's largest incubator and accelerator, is a prime example of the kind of training advocated by Rachel Woods. It is an intensive, week-long practical program that trains participants in the use of generative AI through concrete applications and project work. With this focus, the STARTPLATZ AI Summer School distinguishes itself from many other seminars that focus on the theoretical background of AI.
The fact that the STARTPLATZ AI Summer School is setting a new focus in the field of AI education is evident from the fact that its first edition in July 2023 was Germany's first summer school with a focus on generative AI. Four more sessions, divided between the Cologne and Düsseldorf locations, quickly followed.
The interdisciplinary approach also initially seemed unusual: from individuals to students to entire company teams, such as the team from Städtische Kliniken Mönchengladbach, who participated in multiple sessions of the STARTPLATZ AI Summer School and steadily expanded their project in the subsequent weeks. The format appears to be promising.
AI Hub: Pioneering AI Innovation
The STARTPLATZ AI Hub, as the organizer of the AI Summer School, has not only established itself as a leader in practical AI education but also as a driving force behind AI innovations in Germany. Dr. Lorenz Gräf, the CEO of the AI Hub, emphasizes the importance of education and networking in the field of AI. "Generative AI is not just a trend; it's a revolution. We must ensure that Germany is at the forefront of this revolution," says the CEO.
That this is possible through action-based AI training like the STARTPLATZ AI Summer School is evident from the multitude of AI projects that were launched during the five weeks: 38 in total. For example, the "Social Nurse" project at Städtische Kliniken Mönchengladbach, which developed an AI application for translating complex medical reports in the HealthTec sector.
Success Stories and Response to the STARTPLATZ AI Summer School
The impact of the AI Summer School is not limited to participant feedback but is also evident in real success stories. Numerous companies, such as Städtische Kliniken Mönchengladbach, have made significant progress in their AI projects through their participation in the AI Summer School. A representative of a participating company states, "The combination of theory and practice gave us the tools we needed to take our project to the next level."
A consultant enthusiastically shares, "Today's conclusion of the first #AISummerSchool at STARTPLATZ marks my personal start in the next level of application development based on artificial intelligence – every minute spent here was time well invested! 👍 Remarkable projects were presented at today's conclusion presentation, going far beyond our expectations, including pitches for the first #BusinessCases."
He also achieved tangible results through project-based work: "Our #consulting Chat Bot can analyze consultation conversations as a silent listener and summarize the client's problem in an email, as well as ask for missing information, such as unclear objectives. The analytical capabilities of artificial intelligence support clients and consultants in analyzing, defining, and documenting the common challenge."
High-profile Speakers and Valuable Practical Sessions
Among the speakers are industry insiders like Hamidreza Hosseini, a lecturer at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management and a contact point for renowned institutions like MIT and Y Combinator, as well as emerging tech talents from the LLM field like Dr. Jan Philipp Harries.
What sets the concept of the AI Summer School apart is that speakers also serve as mentors, providing direct feedback on questions or specific project steps.
The content of the AI Summer School covers topics such as prompt engineering, automation, and working with your own data, as well as an introduction to the latest tools like LangChain, ChatGPT's code interpreter, or Zapier.
Looking to the Future
While the AI Summer School was a significant step towards practical AI education, it is just the beginning of what the AI Hub has planned for the future. As part of the vision to create a hub for Germany's AI scene, providing the perfect infrastructure for working with AI, future programs and training will continue to aim at equipping both individuals and companies with the necessary skills to thrive in the AI revolution. With the growing influence of AI in all industries, the importance of such training programs will only increase.