IST intern fosters data science skills in middle- and high-school AI campers

(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of stories highlighting College of Information Sciences and Technology students and their summer internships and professional development experiences.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rising College of Information Sciences and Technology senior Nathan Reilly has taken his data sciences skills and knowledge to summer camp.

As an intern and instructor for AI Camp, Reilly has fostered his passion for coding and artificial intelligence in middle and high school students from around the world. AI Camp provides 13-to-18-year-old students with the training and tools to build AI-enabled products and add experience to their portfolios as they prepare for college and industry.

“Attending AI Camp is something I would have loved to do when I was in high school, so being able to facilitate that experience for these students is [very rewarding to me],” said Reilly, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in data sciences at Penn State.

Through the internship, Reilly is mentoring four groups of students, each over the course of three weeks, to deliver a computer vision product for a live demonstration. He has been teaching each group coding, machine learning, computer vision and full stack development to provide students with the necessary skills to develop a website that showcases their computer vision model.

“The things I have learned at IST have helped me in my internship, and I often reference my notes from class to supplement the curriculum taught in the summer camp,” said Reilly. “My notes represent my understanding of the topics, and rereading them allows me to think about how to translate my understanding of complex topics into a simpler format the students are able to grasp.”

In addition to mentoring students, Reilly is part of a team of AI Camp interns and instructors who are working on a project to generate an AI product to attract 1,000 users or generate $1,000 in revenue. While the College of IST’s emphasis on teamwork has prepared Reilly for this task, the assignment — along with teaching students complex topics in a way they’ll understand — have strengthened critical interpersonal skills.

“The skills and knowledge that I have (gained) this summer are widely applicable to my future career,” said Reilly. “First, the ability to work on my communication skills has been extremely helpful and will translate to any future job I may have. Additionally, working with the students has increased my understanding of the technical material, as I needed to be able to convey the topics in a digestible way.”

Further, Reilly has solidified his understanding of computer vision algorithms, building upon what he has learned about them through his Penn State classes.

While Reilly has gained invaluable professional experience through a unique summer opportunity, the most rewarding part for him lies in the students he mentors.

“The best thing about my internship is seeing younger students’ passion for technology,” said Reilly. “It is incredibly rewarding to see students thoroughly enjoy learning new things, all while collaborating with their groups to create incredible products.”

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