As we look to the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), we are also looking to the next generation of AI leaders and how we can support them. For the second consecutive year, Perficient volunteered to host training centers for free AI Bootcamps for local high school students in collaboration with the Mark Cuban Foundation.
The program, which focuses on supporting students in underserved communities, introduces them to AI concepts through educational seminars, interactive lessons, and lab exercises.
What is the Mark Cuban Foundation?
Founded in 2019, Mark Cuban’s philanthropic organization works to support important causes and empower communities. A core focus on this foundation is the AI Bootcamps initiative, which this year hosted bootcamps for almost 600 students in 26 cities. Looking forward, this organization aims to graduate over 1,000 aspiring technology enthusiasts in the AI Bootcamps.
These camps are accessible to any student with an interest in AI. That said, students do not need any initial familiarity with computer science or programming to attend. The goal is that students walk away feeling empowered and understanding what AI is and isn’t. Students also learn the core concepts of Microsoft’s Cloud computing tools to build their own AI applications.
Training the Next Generation of AI
In 2021, Perficient proudly hosted our first AI Bootcamp in our Dallas office. Our colleagues volunteered as mentors for these ambitious students and educated them about AI technology and the problems it solves. After seeing the impact it had on these students, we knew we wanted to continue this initiative and grow our partnership. This year, we were not only able to host a bootcamp in our Dallas office, but in our Houston one as well.
Over the course of four half-days, our colleagues helped teach and mentor AI fundamentals, concepts, and skills. The tools the students utilized are some of the same our very own colleagues use in their day-to-day work.
“I think this program provides a lot of depth and understanding into what AI will do in the future and the concepts in it and how to be ready to actually be ahead of the world.”
Sindhu, AI Bootcamp Participant
It’s important to note that AI is already surrounding each and every one of us every day. However, the future with AI is boundless. From industries such as healthcare to financial services, we are just at the tip of the iceberg. And for that, we need to continue to encourage and mentor the next AI leaders.
Mentorship for Tomorrow’s Leaders
With over 7,500 colleagues across the globe, we are passionate about giving our time back to the communities in which we live and work. One of our key philanthropic pillars is advancing STEM education. Our involvement in the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamps has been a great way to mentor future leaders and ensure the success of STEM in our communities.
“While I can’t speak for all of the Perficient mentors, I’d be willing to bet most felt a deep satisfaction in helping these student solve technology problems and then seeing them put all 4 weeks of study/learning into a final Capstone Project presentation. It was amazing to see all the innovative ideas these students presented and to get a small glimpse into the future that these digital natives will build. We were thrilled to be a small part of that experience.”
Tommy Lindsey, Senior Project Manager
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“My favorite part of this initiative is watching the students blossom from week 1 to 3. In two short weeks, they go from quiet to community and I love helping broker those relationships and skill building activities! By week 4, they’ve made lifelong friends, become skillful in their technical labs and can give a presentation like a veteran consultant! I love to see it!” Nykema Parker, Senior Project Manager
AI Training for the Present and Future
It’s no secret that STEM jobs are in high-demand, and with that STEM education is needed to grow and expand. STEM jobs are expected to grow 10.5% between now and 2030. And overall they’ve grown 79% since 1990! However, only 20% of high school graduates are ready for STEM majors.
“At the core, consulting is about helping people. Perficient has a responsibility to support the communities where we live and grow. Our goal is to make Houston thrive. One path to that goal is helping develop, coach and mentor the next generation of brilliant minds who will lead our industry and their communities. In addition, I think it is important for students to have visibility into potential career paths, consulting being one of them, and consider how the decisions they make now may lead them to what they want long-term. Perficient has an entire practice dedicated to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – with some team members who volunteered as mentors! Finally, our participation furthers the relationship we have been developing with Mark Cuban and his team.”
John Latham, Managing Director, Houston
Participating students of the bootcamps walked away with an invigorating sense of what AI is and what it can do. But is also gave them confidence to demystify seemingly difficult subjects.
“I wanted to join just to learn more because I feel like knowledge is not always definite…so I don’t want to skip on an opportunity when I see it.”
Saanvi, AI Bootcamp Participant
It’s important that students are prepared to engage in dialogue about the technology that is shaping their future. By collaborating with the Mark Cuban Foundation and hosting AI Bootcamps, it’s a heartwarming moment to work closely with our future tech leaders.
To learn more about Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamps and future sessions, visit MarkCubanAI.org.
Special thanks to Justin Keller for co-authoring this blog.
At Perficient, we continually look for ways to champion and challenge our talented workforce with interesting projects for high-profile clients, encourage personal and professional growth through training and mentoring, and celebrate our people-oriented culture and the innovative ways they serve Perficient and the community.